Nervous for my Nirvana

July 30, 2008 at 9:19 am 10 comments

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?!

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Some fell among thorns… me vs. my [alter] ego!

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ethiocentric  |  July 30, 2008 at 4:34 am

    lollllllllllll…….you. My god you just made me think about my life in the USA. Lucky for me I haven’t tasted to good sides of living in Ethiopia much (I was a kid)..and I have seen Sicko too by the way. What I can tell you is 30 isn’t anything and since u seem to have figured your interests out you just take the opportunity and make it happen. Life here just sucks if you don’t have a goal. If you do it is the best place on earth to be. So off with those cold feet.

  • 2. ONELUV  |  July 30, 2008 at 7:13 am

    well written sis…i must say, from the sound of it, it looks like you are well informed about life in america, which gives you a head start than most of us since you know what to expect. my view of american before i set foot here was all the goods, and not much of the bads. i expected glamorous, beautiful things about this country and boy was that a set up for dissapointment and heartache. Its true you might be hit up by bills from all around the cornor, but the beauty of this country is that you don’t have to limit yourself to wiping toilets or asses, you can be whatever it is that you want to be. of course life abroad isn’t easy, but then again when is life every easy, ya know? congrats on the approval 🙂

    peace

  • 3. abyssinia  |  July 31, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Congratulations!!! I’m happy to hear that you will be reuniting with your hubby soon. As far as life in America, is like “a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

    I think what most people lack at the early stage of their life in states is guidance. Especially for those who come out of their parents’ house and suddenly take all kinda responsibilities in a foreign land. That could be very stressful…

    For you tho, the pros are you are educated, professional, responsible, well informed and most of all have someone to support and guide you thru the transition period…the cons are you have a good life in Ethiopia, good job/salary, stress free/laid-back lifestyle, great social life, etc. and you are going to give up/leave behind all that for the unknown.

    However we all have different experience and different take on life, so good luck!

    Btw, what is the future of e-Shoe box?

  • 4. Spacefog  |  August 1, 2008 at 4:59 am

    Okey here is what I think, i don´t live in the States but I know it. I have travelled enough to compare countries and Ethiopia as well.

    there is always fear to leave behind what you are used to. I am one of those ppl who get really attached to places. Send me some where for two weeks. First its really hard to pack and leave ,at least psychologically. Second its really hard to leave the other place after the two weeks. That always happnes to me no matter how oftern I travel.

    that being said, the states is not a bad place to live in. it has lots of opportunities. I like the freedom . i like the fact that everything is very well thought of. I like the ppl and how easy going they are and how they mind their own business.

    On the contrary , as you said , its a very unequal society. Specially interms of class and race. Americans in general are very uninformed ,annoyingly naive and very corporate minded.Not to add racists.But much better than ppl from other parts of the west.
    But still that doesn´t mean you can´t make your way up. I don´t like the way you said “washing of toilets” or “old lady’s bottom” . You might be forced to do that but that shouldn´t define you. Its a step to other opportunities.

    There is something I don´t agree with Ethiopians often. We think we are the end of the world. We consider our culture and livign conditions the best. We are so into our selves.But I can assure you there are great cultures and people out there. So try to learn from every experiance.

    Don´t let your ´pride´define you. Believe me there are a lot of things in this world you have yet to find out about both personally and professionally.

  • 5. abesheet  |  August 1, 2008 at 6:20 am

    Thank you so much guys, for the help and support. Spacefog, I love your insight. You’ve made the ensuing travel (if i can have the american embassy approve it) something to look forward to. I guess i only saw all the difficulties i might face and not the opportunities. I’m a very adventurerious person by nature, or so I’d like (or used) to think. I always wait to try it before i knocked it down. But this america thing, it’s been scaring the shit out of me. Maybe because i haven’t done much travelling, Gondar and Harar is as far away from home i got. Or maybe because it’s a really huge step and cold feets are to be expected. Whichever happens, though, you’ve made it sound worth while!

    Abbiye konjo: wow! Forest Gump. Love that movie! Did you read my SATC post? I was so disappointed by the movie that i had nightmares all night. Maybe I should go to america. I clearly need to get a life 😉 . That said, my e-shoe box, i hope, would continue being my e-shoe box. I would definitely need a place to vent on for the first 6 months, right? Before i wet my feet and got used to the way things are? It might actually be worth reading. Because i wouldn’t need to “come up” with what to write then. I just write my experiences in a strange land. Atleast from what i can get when Chris comes back from work. He’s more excited about me going there than I am. Talks about nothing else but all the places he’d show me and all the experiences we will have. Like taking me skiing, now that’s one expereince an Ethiopian would like to write back home about. Definitely, something to look forward to. All this, ofcourse, is IF i got a visa. Pray for me 🙂 . Coz although some of us don’t believe in dieties, we don’t mind them extending helping hands from time to time! 8)

  • 6. abyssinia  |  August 1, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Exactly, think of the fun stuff…it’s a great place for adventurerious people like you.

    Oh yeah, I read about your SATC post! My thoughts…the film was funny but the movie was too long and some of the “life lessons” in the movie I found to be total nonsense. But really that isn’t important. The movie is about the 4 characters and what they think. Their life lessons were consistent with the characters from the show, and that’s what’s important I guess. I think there will be a sequel.

  • 7. GarrrXella  |  August 7, 2008 at 9:45 am

    girl how do you do it? Show me posts longer than two paragraphs and I look the other way. With yours I can’t help but want to read it. I agree with what ethiocentric said, life here is awesome! You can be and do anything your heart desires. You cannot wait for a handout, you must be a go getter. One downfall is, the more you have, the more you want. Could be bad, could be good but for some, it is the cause of dissapointment. As long as you have your head screwed on right (which you do) you can steer yourself away from the craziness and into something wonderful for yourself. Cheers!

  • 8. mitti  |  September 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Exactly a month ago was the anniversary of four years of my life here in the states. I won’t sugar coat anything, I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences since I came here. The first year was baaaaaaaddddddd … I regretted ever picking up that SAT book or pestering my dad to have enough confidence in me to let me go. That first year, all I wanted for him to say was “It’s ok, you can come back and we’ll give it a shot later”. Of course he never said it, and knowing myself I wouldn’t have accepted. I’m done with college now, work at a reputable organization, have great friends and family here … all ingredients for a great life right? They should be but instead I am always thinking about home and what a traitor I turned out to be … you know … having the opportunity to study abroad but not having the guts to go back …. I’ll admit America is great in many regards, and I do know home is where the heart is … but my real home, Ethiopia, is always on my mind and I pray to God that one day I’d muster the strength root myself back again
    All this to say, do keep in mind those four points because oftentimes we are more dictated by what others see as Nirvana and not our definitions of it

  • 9. abesheet  |  September 12, 2008 at 7:00 am

    Thank you, mitti, for your response. I guess things would have been easier if I hadn’t felt there were things i’d risk losing by going to america. I earn the best salary Ethiopia could afford in my profession; I have only about 10 more courses before completing my study in literature and language (a childhood dream); i have a family & younger kins whose company i’ve just started enjoying and need me; and.. i can walk home at night without the fear of being cut to slices by a serial killer who didn’t like the color of my eyes! Even the rats in Ethiopia, i was telling a friend, seem to be abeshas. You show a foot, and they’re out the door before you can say “rat ran out”. Losing a toe to a rodent in america, i heard, isn’t the worst that can happen to a kitchen-cabinet owner. And I have almost a phobic to rats and falling. My dreams are haunted by them.

    And trust me, the odds aren’t showing any improvement as the day goes by.

    However, from your and most of the comments in here, I have learned something that would help me win half the battle. That i should grid up my loins to not be surprised if life becomes most unpleasant for some time. But that if i got what it takes, i’ll be able to make it.

  • 10. Knock-knock-knockin’ on.. « My e-Shoe Box  |  February 11, 2009 at 8:08 am

    […] Related Post: Nervous for my Nirvanna […]

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