Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ruffled Feathers and whatnot

Hi Family and Friends!

It’s hard to believe we’re approaching our first-year anniversary of our move to Jamaica.  Time has certainly flown by!  Here’s a peek into some of our morning coffee conversation, as we reflect on the ways the past year has changed us: 

Life in a third world country has grown us into more adaptable people.  We’re reevaluating our wants and needs, and understanding what a difference a culture makes between the two.   For example, I want a second vehicle.  When I lived in Houston, it was a need.  I needed a car…to get to work, to run errands, to be independent of my dear husband and not have to worry about coordinating his schedule with my own.  Now, I realize that a second vehicle does not qualify as a need in most of the world.  Kevin and I share a car.  And we are surviving (gasp!)   We could have survived in Houston.  We would have adapted and figured out how to make it work.  I venture to say that most Americans—particularly our generation – aren’t keen on adapting.  Especially if it means any sort of inconvenience or personal sacrifice.

If anything, the past year has taught us to adapt—to make the most of whatever situation comes our way, even if it’s less than optimal.  We’re realizing how most of our problems are “first world problems.”  We grew up in a high functioning, progressive, first world country where all our needs (and most of our wants) were abundantly met.  Most Jamaicans are not so lucky.  The country is poor, the government corrupt, the economy tanked, and the future bleak.  Yet the people adapt.  They find ways to survive.  They make the most with what they’ve got.  And they take care of each other along the way. 

We have learned a lot from them.  When we count our blessings, the list is twice as long.  So many things we used to need are now merely wants.  So when they appear, we’re so much more aware and so much more grateful.  And when they disappear, for a brief moment or an indefinite period, we adapt and forge ahead.  The list ranges from big to small:  Equal opportunity without regard to race, law-abiding citizens, honest policemen, punctual airport transportation, hot water, air conditioning, fat free creamer, a good steak…all things we’re thankful for, but no longer expect.  Perhaps it’s a matter of reevaluating expectation.  We hope the process is making us more grateful, more patient, more flexible people.

Not that it’s always easy!  But, it’s easier than it was nine months ago.  And I happily pour an ample amount of fat-filled creamer into my coffee each morning, knowing fat free creamer is a first world problem.  All in all, my feathers aren’t as ruffled as they used to be.  I suppose that’s progress, because ruffled feathers do nothing for the body, mind or soul.

With love,
Kevin and Cass

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