Mediocrity Revisited ...

After my post on Mediocrity I received a long email from an old friend on mine, back home. My ramblings seemed to touch a cord with him, especially the line “Thinking about consequences and being responsible is far too tedious.” Most of what he wrote was far too personal to be shared in these pages. Some of it referenced things I had previously shared about my sibling relationship. To paraphrase, his main observation in the end was that, from a social science standpoint, he found it fascinating that the differences in human nature really are not all that great when contrasted with the Thai village and my wife’s brother and sister, and the so-called more advanced "industrialized" nation of America in the case of his sibling sitting in the suburbs of a US city. He felt it was helpful and reinforcing in the end to be able to compare his situation to mine.

Perhaps one reason we have remained friends despite distance and age, is our ability to share ideas, thoughts and feelings. I do not feel it is necessary to share the same beliefs, background or locale. Simply being able to open up to another human being and share in the give and take of ideas, whether or not we agree, seems like it should be a simple enough thing. All too often, however, people’s beliefs are so ridged and their egos so fragile that even the slightest variance from standard deviation, will be met with outrage, anger or even violence.

As for my friend’s observation that it is helpful to compare and contrast things, I find that especially true and unavoidable living in the village. When much of what you take for granted is disregarded or incomprehensible to those who live around you, it can be disconcerting. On the other hand, it can lead to greater insight, understanding and self awareness.

Families are never perfect and the relationships, therein, are seldom what we would wish them to be. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you live in a village or city. If your family is too close and controlling, and in your face about your every move, you may wish for more freedom and understanding. If on the other extreme, they are too distant and uncommunicative, you may long for a more close knit and caring family.

On the rare occasion when I have been approached by a young relative as to why our family is the way it is, my reply is usually the following. Nobody has perfect parents or families and more often than not we succeed in spite of them, not because of them. We are not responsible for choosing our families. That fate was forced upon us.

Who we choose to let into our inner circle throughout out lives is a completely different story. Choose wisely and life can be a wonderful blessing. Make poor choices and find yourself in a never ending quagmire of burden and suffering. It is best in my opinion to dwell less on where we come from and more on where we are going. If our families care to join us on our journeys and contribute constructively, that’s great. If they are negative, complaining and try to hold us back then they should be let off the bus.

For an update on the little boy in our care, he is doing well. His parents came to the village during the recent holiday for the King’s Birthday. I don’t usually get involved in family matters but this time my wife asked me to back her up and contribute in a discussion about the future with her brother and his wife. We sat on the sofa discussing responsibility, consequences, alternatives and ways of weighing the plusses and minuses of living in Bangkok or the village. There was no rush to conclusion. The tone was more, food for thought and planting seeds, that may or may not grow to fruition. Some people you can help, but it is yet to be seen if her brother is one of those. He seems too much like his father for my liking but perhaps...