Reading about Obama’s young mother in the New York Times, I am reminded about a discussion Alex and I had the other day on how we live in a world of different realities. What sparked the conversation was his conversation with a random stranger at a government office while waiting for some documents. It’s not at all related to Obama or his Mom, but it is about how we all have different lives growing up. One cannot just assume everyone’s childhood was just as pleasant as ours even though we’d like to believe it. His reality is not my reality and vice versa.
What really hit us was how this stranger, this pleasant happy chit chatting man, was talking about his family. How he had a hard life growing up and how education for him ended at fourth grade primary. He talked about his daughter and how he was so proud of her to have finished 9th grade. It was like a dream had come true for his children to accomplish such a high level of education. A high school diploma would be out of this world.
Now when we hear things like this, it brings us down hard about how different his and our lives are. I know not everyone is as fortunate to have the life I have, but it’s not the same as when you hear it said. In my family and in my circle of aquaintances and friends, we somehow never even thought about the possibility of not finishing college at the graduate level, let alone highschool. A masters was now the new minimum. Bachelors was not enough. It would be difficult to imagine finding a job without a masters degree in this day and age. The new trend seems to be even going for a second masters degree.
It’s like we live in different worlds, yet here we are at the same government office waiting in line. A momentary crisscrossing of paths before we diverge and go on with our lives. An event that though lasting only a few minutes can make an impression that will last for years. It teaches us not to take things for granted.
Amongst many other things, we take education for granted. We expect our cousins, nephews, neices to at least achieve a masters, but living on the same earth, the same country are those who would be more than happy with a 9th grade education. That is their reality. Food on the table must be worked for each day, whereas I assume I have food in the fridge and if I’m hungry, I’ll just go buy something. I eat more than I should while out there are mothers skipping meals so that their children can eat.
It’s a world of different realities, but lets dream one day it’d be less of a contrast. Look around you and be grateful for what you have. Be happy with what you have, waste little, donate lots. It’s food for the soul.