I’ve been thinking a lot about Einstein lately. Not that I’m thinking about Physics or anything like that, but rather the relativity of perception due to one’s point of reference. So, I may not even really be thinking of Einstein at all, just about my own point of reference in relation to how I used to view things, how I do now, how people here view things, and how people back in the US view things.
This isn’t a rant about how people can’t understand things they’ve never been a part of, that point is largely irrelevant anyway. One’s perception of something, regardless of whether it is “correct” or not, is one’s reality. We shape our decisions around our perceptions of a given situation for every issue. Whether it’s the look and feel of the universe or how to tie a shoe properly.
For instance, a few weeks back I was sicker than I have yet been during my sojourn in Central Asia (no, I don’t live in the Middle East, I live in Central Asia). My bout with traveler’s diarrhea and/or typhoid and/or amoebas made me honestly hate the fact that I live here. So much uncertainty about how things would turn out… could I go to a doctor? Where/which one? The French hospital? The German clinic? Antibiotics? To be honest, I just wanted to be home, back in SB, under the care of my mom (yes, I wanted my mommy), giving the responsibility of my well-being to someone who knew what they were doing. However, I am truly grateful for the nurse we have here, she diagnosed me perfectly and gave me the advice I needed to get better, she just isn’t… well, she’s not mom. Ha.
Then, as I got better, I realized again, like so many times before, that I really do like it here… most of the time. I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains, but I suppose this isn’t exactly what I had in mind several years ago. I enjoy the people here, expat and nationals. The food is alright, not the best but certainly not the worst I’ve ever had. High school kids make me want to slap them but I realize my teachers probably wanted to do the same to me often enough.
More than every once in a while I really want to just get out of here, leave the problems of this country to someone else… the corrupt government, the shitty education system (which I’m proud to say, our school is the exception.. mainly because we’re not part of the system), the poverty, the trash filled river, etc. I’d like to leave it to others to have their windows rattled by explosions, to be confined to a compound when you can hear gunfire in the city, to deal with that idiot kid who just can’t get his head screwed on straight. Fortunately, the former two things are much much less common than the last one, despite what the news reports. But even after thinking about all the things that I’d like to get away from, to leave to someone else to take care of, I honestly have no idea where else I would go. After being in a place like this for so long, I just can’t imagine going back to the life that I had before. Sure, I’ll visit it. But whether I like it or not, I’m different. Maybe not as different as I’d like to think, but different nonetheless.
My mom was asked by a well-meaning family friend, “So, when is Luke going to get this whole thing out of his system? And then, you know, settle down?” My mom’s answer, “Oh, probably never.” Just one more reason that moms know best, and one more reason that I really do miss her, along with the rest of my family.
Every person has something that they feel they have to do, at least I think so. I’m not exactly sure what thing that I have to do, but I know it has something to do with places like this. As most of my college friends, especially my most recent roommate can attest to, is that I really dislike not being in control. I don’t particularly enjoy uncertainty. People talk about “adventure” as an overly romanticized thing… going into the unknown, yada yada yada. The idea of packing everything up and moving to a new place, full of uncertainty and adventure sounds so cool until you’re there. Then you realize that life isn’t like a book or a movie, but that it’s always filled with people who are living day-to-day. That’s where the living of life is done, in the day-to-day. The everyday interactions, the routine, the relationships; the people, places, and things where one spends one’s time. For most of my life I think that I’ve been driven to shirk routine, to go out on an adventure, expecting it to be like something from a novel or a movie. But when was the last time that you heard about someone doing the routine things of life like sleep, going to the bathroom, sitting and typing behind a desk, or something else that could be construed as mundane take prominence in a movie or novel?
I’m seeking to live the days as they come. Not that I don’t look forward to things, like traveling somewhere I’ve never been, meeting up with friends that live on the other side of the planet, or the next “adventure”. But, I’m trying to change my point of reference. Instead of trying to have a bird’s-eye view of my life, looking from one important happening to the next, just trying to live in the moments as they come… whether they’re super fun or they just suck. Life will never be without frustrations, whether I live in a war zone or suburbia. I can’t be waiting for the action-packed sequence, the catastrophe, or the “love at first sight” moments that our entertainment is so filled with. Sure, huge events have and hopefully will continue to happen in my life, but there is no sense in forcing them. Big moments are all over the place, but you have to appreciate the ordinary to even know the extraordinary.
When you get sick, you often forget what it feels like to be healthy but you still pine for it. When you’re bored, you pine for something exciting. When you’re lonely, you pine for companionship. But… without understanding these things you can’t fully appreciate their flip-side.
Please don’t take this as a “well, life sucks but here’s to better days ahead” type of post. That’s not at all what I mean. When I think about it, I wouldn’t trade my life. It certainly isn’t perfect… but for me it is at least ideal. I mean, when I sit back and think of where I’d rather be, I can’t think of anywhere in particular. It may not be bliss, but it’s certainly joy.
I hope that whoever may still be reading at this point can understand the point that I’m making here. Life is good. Sometimes it sucks, but hey, could I ever enjoy drinking a glass of water if I’d never been thirsty?
One thought on “Point of Reference”
Ahhh, welcome to culture shock, my friend! Sounds like you’re doing well with it, though. 😉