I was emailing with a person I don’t know whose question I answered on LinkedIn – he was saying that in his eyes, “you’re living a life I can only dream about...I do all my worshiping at the altar of the ocean and the beach”. I replied to him that his email made me chuckle, ‘cos here I am wishing I could be somewhere cooler, with more, better paid work, customers, etc, you know, greener grass. We agreed that the ideal would be a bit of “here” and a bit of “there” and truth is, that’s what I’m aiming for. I know well enough the desperate desire I had to get my backside out of cold, rainy, sun-don’t-shine, no Zouk Norhern England and back to my paradise isle; and I know well enough the desperate desire to shake off the small island feeling that no matter which direction you take, you’re less than a half day’s walk from the edge of your country and you’ve seen it all already. Now, I’m making a conscientious (I can spell that now after typing it so many times recently) effort to find, appreciate and work the good elements of where I am for I have a big hunch it’s in doing that, I’ll be able to get a taste of the other over “there”.
Many of us who grow up in the islands know how much a move to study or work overseas helps us appreciate our homes; Suddenly, finding a breadfruit to cook is all you can think about, don’t talk for fried plantain! And, Oh, if only there were a beach within reach, you’d swim and twiddle your toes endlessly in the sand, not like at home, where you never bothered, after all, it’s not like it won’t be there tomorrow. Then you get back home and everything is too expensive, “Who-oy Gacoh! When I was “there” you getting three for that money!” So what to do?
Seriously though, professionally speaking, there are different benefits to tap into in each option. In a small island you can (relatively) easily be the head of the project and your resume and experience reflect that responsibility. My school friends have risen to be heads of Ministries and even Ministers of Government – that’s another thing we tend to take for granted – familiarity with our top leaders, the Governor General is my old school principal. These are things a lot of us don’t realize the potential value of until we get out into the vastness of Big County city life, one, nameless in millions. But granted, back home, the number of projects might be few and far between and there’s always the “who you know” syndrome that seems to dole out the best to that clique that you’re not quite part of... And then there’s the dollar issue, what we get paid will never be enough to allow us to buy a home in a Big Country. If we have the chance to live there, working there is often our next aim; saving that money for a better chance at leveraging your future the way you want to.
In the arts and crafts arena in St. Lucia, I figured out that people were measuring their work with a yardstick that was just too short because of what our grass patch lacked and that was the problem with getting the quality I wanted. How, without the benefit of schooling in arts, examples of good design in buildings, quality and variety in consumer goods, welcoming galleries, museums etc would the maker be able to conceive what I’m asking for?
It strikes me then that the same is true of when we get the chance to experience over “there” we often don’t take full advantage. Maybe for some it’s just something that slips through our grasp, but I suspect for some others it’s that there’s no prior knowledge of the things that make living in a big country great, so if the visitor doesn’t chance upon a guide, their experience will remain limited. I’m not deriding us islanders, I know that in general, we tend to be very aware of world issues, but unless you’ve been to a good museum it’s all too possible that you won’t think of going to one, isn’t it?
Now of course we have the www – that was the question I originally responded to on LinkedIn – are we really happier with all this opportunity to communicate, network etc, what happened to the occasional ‘sound of silence’? For a small islander, yes, finally, within the grasp of a large number of us is the chance to see what the world is all about. I see teachers bringing the world into their classrooms – myself included – I had a great class watching wire sculpture and paper mache videos on YouTube. A new business person can Google their business idea and get so much input, ideas, don’t dos, supplies, buyers, the world is finally at our doorstep.
I’m still hankering after greener grass and happy to be reassured that others are hankering after ours. Life’s full of adventures, I know many will be in my own back yard and I hope I enjoy them to the fullest, but no way I’m stopping admiring that nice green patch over “there” and I know when I get there, for however short a time it is, I’ll be checking out every blade of grass I can. And this time thanks to the www, I’ll have ID’d where the fried plantain is at before I’ve left home turf.
Today's Alphabet Attitude: L is for Loving it!