Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I received so many interesting comments from this. The most interesting of them was a conversation that I had with a woman who is a friend of the family, around my mother’s age. First, if you didn’t read the section in the previous update, you may want to go refresh yourself. Otherwise, let’s dive in.

The most interesting phenomenon is that when bad things are happening and someone asks you how you are doing and you say “Actually I’m quite well” this is the confused response.

How are you?
I’m doing fine.
No, really, how are you.
Actually I’m ok.
I know that has to hurt. That must hurt.
(in trying to feel or be hurt for the person) Yes, it’s really tough, man.
Well, you can’t walk around hurt all the time. You need to learn to rise above it.

That’s my general experience. If you are somehow peaceful amidst craze, people don’t believe it and actual want you to be “honest” and show how it messes you up. So when you agree to “be messed up” they then tell you how you need to be able to deal with your situation and not be messed up, sad, delirious, teary-eyed, depressed, or angry (which they wanted you to be originally).

Actually when I wrote that I was quite calm. I don’t think I was frustrated, but perhaps I’m lying to myself. Secondly, I used the term extended family.

Some people wrote about having similar experiences. Some said it was the similar but they weren’t black sheep, more like grey sheep. Others were like this meeting I had with this woman who thought a few things. One, I didn’t understand my extended family. And two, what was probably hard for my extended family was security. Would I be able to take care of them in future? Many of our families in our Nigerian communities are not well off with huge retirement savings. The funny thing is that the thought of security was actually not new as I’ve been told that none of the tension over my life has to do with anyone in the extended family wanting money from me. To prove this it was pointed out that I’ve not been asked for money to help the family out for years (other people have helped out). So I’m not sure about any of that. As for understanding, I think I meant that I can see how they think what they think, and I would, too, in the same situation and life experience.

So the walk-away point was that the children are supposed to take care of the parents, period. It’s my responsibility, and to abdicate is negligent and, if I understood it correctly, amoral. I think this would probably fit in line with many countries. I don’t know if it’s very popular in the States. Regardless, in this conversation it was suggested to me to start a savings account/investment of some sort to prepare and take care of the parents. I would like to do it and thought it was a wonderful idea and spoke immediately to my siblings. There are a few complications though and I’m not sure if we’ll be able to do it or when or how soon. Maybe. I would like to see it, even if it’s just a little.

The interesting point of the conversation is that the woman said I could do both—do something I felt God had put in my heart and make a lot of money to take care of the parents. Why are they mutually exclusive? And she thought I was just the person to make it work. I hope so. I don’t know. I know the jobs I’m looking at. I know the Engineers without Borders placement or the Doctors Without Borders placements would cause tension. I know that. I know the jobs that would give me lots of money, and I’m not excited about that. But I thought it interesting that she said it was my responsibility which implies that providing for them is priority. You do that first. So if you have to choose between two things, you take the best job and provide for them. This was not a person from my culture. She was a middle-aged white woman who is a like a second mother. So it was very interesting. I will look for some way to synthesize the two. I truly believe I will be able to do it much later in life. Whether I can do it for my next job starting in July/August, we shall see.

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