Monday, May 24, 2004

Real pain 

Quick background: My little sister has done a tremendous amount in her short life. She cruised around the world in college (semester at sea). She was an au pair in Switzerland. She served in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan and Uganda. She has now been in China for a bit teaching english to school kids. I have lost track of how many languages she has learned, and her experiences continue to pile up at a tremendous rate. She is a truly amazing woman, and I am proud to call her my sister and close friend.

We are really close, and primarily use email and yahoo IM to keep in touch until we can meet up again. We email about many life issues for which we strive to find answers, yet more often than not we succeed only in further mudding the waters by creating more questions than we solve. It seems that recently my ranting and raving pleas for direction and suggestions have increased in volume, which has resulted in a flooding of her inbox. Unfortunately her answers are still non-existent, as are mine for her. She recently got a doozy from me, and as I knew would happen, she sent one at the same time that made my trivial problems look as insignificant as they really are. Contingent on her approval, I will post excerpts from her email in here.

This 'story'/tragedy revolves around 2 of my sisters friends (a guy and a girl). They work in a cafe in a park and live in the yurts (tents, basically) set up there.

They make less than 50 dollars a month -- and haven't been paid for 3 months. They've literally no money, and are prisoners in this place. They work all day,
everyday, and even at night can't leave b/c they're also guards. Their food is shit. I bring fruits so they get some vitamins but [the guy] gets upset b/c he
doesn't want to be charity.

Their backgrounds add even more to the drama of the situation:

But he feels emasculated b/c he
works for no pay, his parents want to renounce him as
their son b/c he isn't acting like a man, and he's my
age, so he should have married, but there's no way he
ever can when he can't even afford to buy a bus ticket
back home. It's his 1st time away from his family and
he misses them so much.

Meanwhile [the girl] might do the occasional prostitution
to get by, I'm not sure, but her family used to have a
lot of money, then her father went blind, and now if
she ever gets her paycheck it will go to help support
the family -- 6 kids and 2 parents and only 2 girls
are working, in restaurants for shitty pay.

And I am bummed to be stuck in a cubicle all day. The sheepishness has begun.

It's a horror, these desperations and sadnesses. Sometimes I feel like all the world is crying out at once.

Their birthdays are June 1 and they can't take even the evening off, tho I ARGUED with their boss about it (in my pitiful CHinese, no less) but I'm coming anyway
with a birthday cake.

My sister is a wonderful soul (which has gotten her into trouble before, but like the rest of our family, she is stubborn so she doesn't give up).

Some of my rants to her touched on life, the point of it, and that sort of thing. Towards the end of the above email, she referenced Vonnegut:

Do you think it's true what Vonnegut said, that we're all just here to help each other get through this thing?

Maybe that is the point. Spirituality is a good prod to live a good life and gives meaning to sacrificing for the good of others. Without that, why would you worry about anyone but yourself? Maybe because it pays you back in the form of outside support to survive this life thing. I don't know.

I do know that I get spoiled by my life, as do many many people in this country. We insulate ourselves not only from the pain in our own country, but we tend to turn our back to the rest of the world and their ills, maybe because we know they tend to be worse than ours and we'd rather not deal? That is the point of this post. Some perspective. I am not saying that if you are having issues with something that it is deemed ineffectual because someone else is suffering worse, but maybe seeing someone else's pain will make you more appreciative of all the good in your life instead of focusing on the bad. That is what my sister got out of it. And me too.

I don't know that this made any sense. I will re-read it in the morning after some sleep.

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Name: Corey
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I'm on a journey with no destination. The path is constantly changing direction but there are always adventures to be had. "Never" and "always" have left my lexicon.

WWW http:/www.jimspeak.blogspot.com