Nervous for my Nirvana
Wind, fire, earth/land and water! Those, according to Ethiopia orthodox church’s dogma on creation, are the stuff “heaven and earth” are made of. They are referred to as “Aratu Bahriyat” (the four elements). They came to life by the divine command that first Sunday of creation.
Man, who is also believed to have been made of these same 4 elements, as he exhibits them throughout his life, may have been called to life on the 6th day. But the stages of his life, according to German scientist Carl Gustav Jung, are divided into 4: Childhood (the structuring of the Ego), Adolescence & Early Adulthood (seeking experience to confirm belief system), Adulthood & Mid-life (reclaiming Yourself Understanding who you wish to be) and Maturity & Wisdom (alignment with Self & preparation for death).
Following the fours stages of man’s life comes the question, “what makes life worth living”. To a Hindu, a man who lives within the four classes of society (teachers and priests; warriors, kings and administrators; farmers, merchants, herdsmen and businessmen as well as servants and laborers) and to whom the pursuit of kama, artha, dharma and moksha (pleasure, material wealth, righteousness & salvation) are the objectives of life, fulfillment is acheived through realizing the Four stages on the Path of Nirvana, otherwise known as the four stages to the state of being free from both suffering & the cycle of rebirth. Whereupon Stage 1 is “Brahmacharya” = learning, Stage 2 is “Grihastha”=adolescence, Stage 3 is “Vanaprastha”=of cotemplation & meditation and Stage 4 is “Sannyasa”, where the person renounces the world!
To Hollywood, or atleast to Kristie Alley’s 2007 movie Write & Wrong, “love”, “money”, “career” & “health” make up the 4 must-haves for a life fulfilled. Two out of four (granted health makes the two ‘have’s) is supposed to be good enough, making life “sweet”. Anything less, said the movie, a happy life maketh not. So, naturally, I begun totting them up on my finger. I have a good health, says I, so good that it sometimes worries me. So that’s point # one! I am married to a wonderful man, so wonderful that I sometimes wonder if I was worth it. Thus another point and the love portion covered. My career sucks, ofcourse. Still it pays good (in Ethiopia’s standard, atleast). And when it comes to having money in my account, well, unless we are talking about the accounts yahoo (and hotmail, gmail) offers, I ain’t exactly loaded with the stuff. I still earn enough to get by. Career + lack of the dough = 1/2 a point. So, I have health, love, a rut of a career that pays well and no money! 2&½ out of 4!! Not too shabby, one might say, abesheet isn’t exactly living high but still is in good company!!
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have graced the remaining 1& ½ points with a second thought. For I, like Saint Paul, have learned to say “what I have is enough, his grace is sufficient for me” (or whatever it is Saint Paul says when he is short of bucks). But ever since my husband informed me that his Case Type I130-Immigrant Petition for Relative, Fiance(e), or Orphan has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security, I’ve been having a cold feet about this trip to america.
This cold feet isn’t caused by my in-law’s plan to throw a big welcoming party in my honor where every one of his pretty cousins would come to – a scary thought in it’s own right!! For my idea of attending a party has always been packing all the delicacies on a use-and-throw plastic “sehan” and locking myself with it so I can gobble everything up to my heart’s desire far from disapproving eyes. Nay!!. I’m having the cold feet for I fear I’d someday regret, bitterly, leaving all the goods that make living worth while behind. A job that pays good (compared to the job-horror myths in america) for nothing, a health insurance of 6,000 birr a year and a mother who is only a “missed call” away to come to my rescue jammed between whatever rock and a hard place I may be.
Now, if this was the 60’s and I a mere teenager with dreamy dispositions, you’d have told me being with my husband would make it all worth my while and I’d have believed you. I’m well aware, too, that separate beds at other ends of the globe a good marriage don’t make. Still, “love” is only one of the four elements for a life of fulfillment according to this movie, and I tend to agree. My husband may give me a good back rub when I come home tired, hungry, and insomanic. But can he make up for the blow to the morale the “washing of toilets” or “old lady’s bottom” at a retirement home would administer to a proud abesha’s soul like mine?!.
Consider this question from all 4 angles, if you please!
A career change I may soon have. The possiblities, as everyone would tell you, are endless. But is starting over at 30+ worth it? What about my health? Having lived with a man who can’t talk enough about Canada (a country he said a cat hanging in a tree is likely to make the 6’oclock news, where doors aren’t locked and health care comes free) and having watched Micheal Moore’s “Sicko”, I have no misgivings as to the United States Government sinking so low as to pay my health bill were pains to occur in my joints. Throw a “netela” on my face and kick me to the curve is the likely scenario when fu-fu-foreigners like the sister start making sickly noises. And, please satisfy my curiosity for me, living in a country of no “13 months of sunshine” or where the sunshine is likely to generate a scorching heat (rendering the sister’s kidney, lung and liver useless), coupled with sleep depreviation, junk food and powdering old women’s bottom, would I have my health intact 2 years from now?! And, here is the scary question, after all these discomforts, would the love still linger?!
Or am I in the first of the 4 stages of cultural shock: wonder, frustration, depression and acceptance?! Whereupon wonder is supposed to stand for Jet-Lag and Wonder, frustration for Settling In…To Frustration, depression for Feeling Stuck and acceptance for Home Away From Home?!