Today’s expression is “all walks of life.” This is a quirky one. You won’t use it a lot, but if you hear it, you might be confused by what it means, “all walks of life.” What does this one mean, “from all walks of life”?
It’s a way of describing all kinds of people. We usually use this phrase when we want to make a point that we are around all different types of people. It usually doesn’t mean religion or skin colors, but rather, it means different professions and social statuses. You might remember, a few episodes ago, I talked about my experience on a jury in New York City. I lived in Manhattan, the middle of it all. One thing you need to know about New York: there are all kinds of people living there. You always hear about the ethnic and cultural diversity there, but another type of diversity is all the different professions and lifestyles that are represented in New York.
It seemed like they were all represented on this jury! There were two or three boring businesspeople in their 30s like me. But one guy was a dressmaker. One guy was a bus driver. One was a religious leader. One person had never worked in her life. One was a musician. There were people from all walks of life.
You can see people from all walks of life at a funeral, too. That’s how you heard it earlier in this lesson. It’s funny. Our day-to-day lives—and this is not necessarily a bad thing—but our day-to-day lives are often full of people like us, or at least not to different from ourselves. For me, it’s people in business. For you, it might be parents of kids the same age. Or it might be people who work in health care. Or maybe your church. Our inner circle tends to be people like us. But most of us, in our networks of family, friends from home, friends of friends—most of us know people from all walks of life, even if we don’t encounter them every day.
If you moved to a big city long ago, you probably still know people from rural areas. If you work at a desk, you probably know someone who works outside. You might know—via a friend of a friend—an actor or a professional athlete. You might know someone who made a lot of money from investing, and then others who have never seemed to hold onto a stable job. You know people in different economic circumstances. You may be bored in museums, but you may know someone who’s a curator at an art gallery somewhere. And so on. You know people from all walks of life.
When you use “all walks of life,” we always refer to a mixture of social statuses, not just different types of jobs. For example, a star tennis player, a rich tech entrepreneur, and a TV star don’t come from different walks of life. They may do different things, but they have a similar economic status. But expand the circle a little. The entrepreneur’s parents might be retired schoolteachers; the TV star may still be close to the minister at his church where he grew up; and the tennis player’s neighbor at his lake house might be a landscaper. Those people outside their immediate circles come from different walks of life.
Where are you likely to encounter people from all walks of life? Think about places where it doesn’t matter what your social status is. A baseball or a hockey game in America is a great example. Central Park in New York, also. The richest people and the poorest people in New York can all enjoy Central Park—and so can everyone in between. Closer to home, for me, people from all walks of life can enjoy Lake Michigan, the huge lake that borders several US states and my own city of Chicago. People like me hang out in the public parks and beaches; others are on their private boats. But, regardless, people from all walks of life enjoy Lake Michigan when the weather gets nice. People from all walks of life show up in court. The propensity to commit crime may decline as you get more money, but it never goes away entirely, right? People from all walks of life listen to and enjoy Plain English, how about that? That’s one of the things I love about it.
JR’s song of the week
JR strikes again. Today’s song is “A Beautiful Day” by James King and Anders Lewén. I really, really like this song. Here’s the line I like the most: “When I wake up in the morning, the very first thing I do, I say hello to the world outside, I say hello to something new.” I really like that line and the song sounds amazing too.
I asked where JR heard this song—but I really should know the answer before I ask. It’s from the Netflix show “Sweet Magnolias.” I haven’t seen it, but I do see it’s trending on Netflix. Some of the shows I’ve seen have really good soundtracks, too. So thanks JR for this week’s song, “A Beautiful Day” by James King and Anders Lewén.
See you next time!
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