What's your purpose?

January 31, 2018

"Wha yu fah? Wha yu a do yah?" Dem two questions deh kinda sound abrupt, don't? Yeah man, they're so pointed that they tend to sound more than a bit discomforting.

And depending on the situation, if somebody directs those questions at you in an aggressive, unfriendly tone, it may definitely feel like a vocal slap in the face. And you would be naturally inclined to verbally slap dem back. Nuh true?

If I walk into a shop, store, or the reception area of a major company and the customer service rep jook mi with those questions instead of the expected "good day, how may I help you?" I know I would be tempted to respond with something equally or more severe and walk right back out.

And if you go to visit a friend or lover and get greeted with those questions, you don't need to write Dear Pastor or call your family counsellor for advice. You know that the relationship is over.

Of course, although they sound harsh and unwelcoming when taken by themselves, those two questions can be quite effective when framed in different contexts.

For example, veteran singer Tony Tuff manages to poetically place those two questions in a lyrical invitation to a romantic relationship via his late-70s hit tune The First Time I Met You.

In the song, which is one of my favourite tracks on the enduring 'Love I Can Feel' rhythm, Tony Tuff croons:

"I saw you down the lane, I never called out your name, but I know yes I know, I had to see you again. A wha yu fa? A wah yu a do yah girl? A whe u come from come yah?"

Well, as a teacher, I usually ask students those same two questions when I meet them for the first time. My intention, of course, is never either the unwelcome jolt or the romantic overture mentioned in the earlier examples.

No, I pose the questions to encourage students to ponder on purpose and objective. Yeah, I want them to think about what they're doing and why not just in my class, but in life.

And I put the questions to you too, as you read this. Wha yu fah? Wha yu a do yah? In other words, what do you stand for? What's your purpose? And what are you doing here and now towards fulfilling that purpose?


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