I Am Where I Was Meant to Be

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I don’t even know what the title of the post means (but I can’t be bothered figuring out a more meaningful one). What is it, to be where you’re meant to be? Who does the meaning? I don’t know. I know who doesn’t do the meaning though: me. (Also, god, because I’m godless and faithless.)

I’m a self-declared Buddhist. Dalai Lama’s Cat advises to turn our prison into a monastery. The idea is that while you’re still confined, you bring into play an element of deliberate consent. I’m also Freudian. Freud advises that when you can’t have what you want, you must want what you have. These two are basically the same idea.

If it were entirely up to me, I wouldn’t choose to be where I am, physically and mentally. On the other hand, why not? There are sure worse places, literally and figuratively. I believe in determinism in the sense that where and when you are born predetermines your options. Don’t tell me that my life would be the same if I were born in a dirt hut in the heart of darkness (that’s literary speak for Congo, Africa).

Having been born in the second world has its amazing perks. Awareness, for example. We’re here an advanced society enough not only to know in theory that there are more advanced societies but also to practically know how exactly they live. I don’t think people in the dirt huts of the third world are quite clear on what life in the first world looks like. I have the benefits of internet, formal education and international friends, so I dare say I am quite aware of what it is to live elsewhere.

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The second world awareness to me means that I know that I could have been better and also that I could have been worse. I can visualise both variants rather well. Knowing this, I’m also appreciative that I haven’t ended up worse. Sure, I’m a struggling overworked freelancer in a cold flat in a shabby small town, but hey, it’s not like I have to walk ten miles to get water from the well and there are rapists and robbers on the way.

I argue that second world people are the toughest. When you don’t know what you could have had, if only you were born differently, you don’t desire it—you have no idea. When you do know, however, that you could, but most likely won’t (don’t give me the nonsense that I can be anything I want to be), you have to get your shit together and deal with it. That requires both mental and physical toughness.

I mean, I’m not dependent on UNICEF food packets, I get my groceries from Tesco, but I still have to walk a mile to get there and carry the shopping on my back because I have neither a car nor someone to help me. It’s this undemonstrative everyday heroism that I value the most in others—and myself. I wouldn’t choose it, but since that’s what I got, I might just as well do it properly and with whatever grace and dignity I can put together.

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14 comments on “I Am Where I Was Meant to Be”

    1. I woke up feeling somewhat thoughtful. Or mindful. Whatever you call it. So I produced this impromptu thing… However, I lightened it up with a cat picture in the following post!

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  1. Perspective is always a useful thing. When I was growing up, I was aware that I had so much less than many others (I was part of a child poverty study just to drive the point home) but I was simultaneously always aware of how privileged I was to not live in a conflict zone, have access to free education and free healthcare, and basic things like accommodation and food.

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    1. Oh dear, I didn’t realise your childhood was as bad as that. And look at you now!

      A bit of perspective is always helpful. That’s exactly what my thoughts were. We who are lucky enough to have the basics, like shelter and food, as you say, should really appreciate it.

      Sometimes I do get envious of others and sorry for myself and I’m thinking I wish I had more, but then, other times, I look in amazement at things we take for granted – such as when I’m making myself a mug of coffee – and I think, wow, isn’t it great that I have this?

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      1. It wasn’t bad enough that I could write a misery memoir. My childhood was challenging in material ways and my home town was really very rough at that time. But we were loved and nurtured and encouraged which is ultimately more important than material stuff.

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  2. Very enjoyable, reflective read, Mara. How true it is.

    “Don’t give me the nonsense that I can be anything I want to be.”

    A pure reality that I think leads to far more contentment than living in delusion, and inevitably failing as one was never taught more reasonable things like how to think objectively, self-assess with reason, and how to build character.

    I grew up watching my older brother decompose like an animated scrap yard monster…and was tortured by remembering what I hoped he would become as he sliced at me with his sharp-metal edges. He’s turning to oxidized dark brown powder now and I’ve held a funeral in my head and just accept what he is, now.

    What was it that Kierkegaard wrote? “The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you’ll never have.”

    Rather true in my case but then- the incredible little moments for which to be grateful never cease to astound me, even in my darkest state. I continually marvel at things like being able to pluck a fresh bundle of cilantro (from Mexico actually) (and pluck is not the right word, wincingly grab is better as the things are always wet and absolutely freezing) and take it home with me- that still amazes me every time.

    Simple little beauties in life especially haunt me, as I feel shame for being able to notice them because I’m not scrambling for the next meal or trying to fashion a home out of card-board, or walking ten grueling miles in the searing sun just for clean water…

    I admire your tenacity and acceptance of what is.

    Cheers.

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    1. It’s a pleasant surprise to see how you connected with my post: I’ve not always crystal clear in expressing my thoughts, but you apparently got just what I meant…

      Acceptance is exactly what I had in mind. That’s what I’m trying to do, to accept what is, rather than spend time imagining futures that never will be…

      You said it better than me.

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