If you're someone like me, what I do isn't what I do; it's who I am.
Let me give you an example. Many of my primary school teachers weren't teachers; teaching was something they did, but not something that they were. It was a hat they put on at 9am and took off at 3pm. Whenever they had a moment they would talk excitedly about the BMW their husband had bought for them, or their Chanel No.5, or a new dress, or that holiday to Vietnam. It was never about their job, because their job was their job; simply a way to make money. If she was in a bad mood she'd whinge about the crappy pay teachers get, and how that doesn't even cover mopping up vomit or going on school camps. I worked all night on a biography which I typed up in the smallest font I could manage, when other kids wrote theirs in size 72 and even then only filled up half a page - and as she grumbled loudly that I had given her a 'thesis to mark' I could hear the girls at the back laughing at me. Our work would have ticks, crosses, and a number. Nothing more.
This wasn't even a bad teacher, or a mean teacher - she was the only teacher who bothered to find me crying in the toilets when the other girls discovered pads in my bag and decided to show them to all the boys for their amusement. But her heart wasn't in it, as nice as she was. And it radiated out of everything she did.
My literature teacher last year was a literature teacher. I think she was born a lit teacher and she'll die a lit teacher. She always talked excitedly about this school or that school, this student, that book, that argument, that fascinating thesis, how to tease out that beautiful argument. I've never seen someone with so much energy, so much love and devotion for her job. She was American, and she would tell us how much of a pay rise it was to come to Australia, and how priviledged it was to teach such intelligent and enthusiastic kids. Every time I got an essay back every square inch of margin was scrawled with furious pencil; she had written an essay on my essay on how to write a better essay. Nothing more.
I love history. I have loved history ever since I was a little girl. I'm not particularly amazing at studying history but it is my life, just as literature is my life. My entire existence, almost, depends on how well I can defend the importance and relevance of my passions to the modern world.
Which is why I understand when people's eyes light up as they try to explain to me, most earnestly, the absolute imperative nature of maths and science and economics to the modern world. It's a never-ending bicker at school; we always have a go at each others' subjects. The Super Six kids don't understand lit freaks like me, and nobody really understand the arty kids or the musos. I don't pretend to understand my peers, but I understand their passion.
It is their heart. My art is mine.