Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If you had to design a life....

Last night I was reading and began thinking about something.

If you had to design a life for yourself, say you were a life coach, knowing what you know now, what would you have designed?

I would have encouraged me to be a nurse. The reason is multifold, not the least of which is that I am quite good at practical things. Not so good at the theoretical and in that sense, my sociology degree has not been helpful in any regard.

I like international travel. As a nurse, I would have spent my entire working life traveling to different countries, helping people with their medical issues. At the same time, I would have used that as a platform for human rights education which is very important to me.

Refugee camps and villages would have been my choice of where to use my skills. I would have done it through an independent agency, nothing with any government connections because that would have left me free to support my own beliefs and not be an unknowing propagandist for any government. (And, yes, that would include Thai.)

That would have worked well for me because I am simply not the type of person for typical family life and I can not see me ever having a career in the workplace environment here.

So.. what about you?

On an unrelated topic, I was listening to the news and heard that Fidel Castro is stepping down. The immediate assumption is that the Cuban people will naturally choose the way of life here over their own. Already, the US government is planning and plotting how to make the "transition to democracy." Does it ever occur to anyone in power in the US that everyone else in the world might not agree that its way of life is the only one worth living?

Does this strike anyone else as incredibly arrogant?



Danielle said...

I just read about his stepping down on MSN and thought the VERY SAME THING! I'm so tired of American arrogance. Quite frankly, like you, I've travelled and lived in a number of other places and if I learned anything, it's that our way is far from the RIGHT way. Frankly, there is none. Just what works for each person/country, etc. When oh when will our great leaders figure this out. And when will they stop being so hell-bent on making everyone else just like them?!?

WendyB said...

I don't think democracy is perfect, but I think it's always a better system to give more people a say in how they're governed than to let the power reside in the hands of a few party leaders. At least in the U.S. we have the right to complain about our government's imperfections. You can't be critical in a lot of other environments. And does anyone think a lifetime ruler is really a good idea? Let's be real.

Julie Pippert said...

A nurse! That would have been grand for you.

For me? I don't know.

As for democracy...yes, it is presumptive arrogance, but not necessarily destructive arrogance. When it comes to the average citizen...I think it is more like Jen's precious long-haired girl in Starbucks. I believe it is generally well-intended naivete, and also a passionate belief in how we operate.

People in Cuba have suffered by their own testimony. Perhaps this is a chance for them to make of their country what they will. I hope! It may be democracy...or at least more freedom.

But yes, I do know what you mean. It can come across horribly. Sometimes the leaders do sound patronizing, and that's the part that troubles me.

It can be very paternalistic in a severe way, the attitude, at times.

Amy Y said...

I think it is EXTREMELY arrogant for Americans to go into other countries, tell them the way they do things is incorrect and try to change a country that has not asked to be changed. I hate that about us. I really do. I think it has caused much more trouble and bad than good.

As far as what I'd be if I redesigned my life... wow ~ what a concept to ponder!

I'm almost scared to look to much into it because at only 30, that would mean I'd have to finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up and start changing my life to attain it. I'm not sure I'm ready for that.


Sai Hijara - Ferraris said...

Hi Chani! I'll start with your add-note, I agree with you. That is just too arrogant...your way doesn't have the way of the world. I'm sure they know better what to do with their own government and people, in my humble opinion.

To the main topic...wow, I'm not sure! LOL Maybe I'd be a doctor. And like you, I maybe travelling to third world countries helping sick people...well, I don't really have to go far...there are many sick people in my place who can't afford decent medication.

Carla said...

Yes, that does sound way too arrogant. Why must we always assume that we do things the best way. By the way, I like this post. What are you waiting for? I need to get busy and design my life.

Anonymous said...

Will everyone hate me if I say I would design for myself exactly the life I have?

Anonymous said...

It strikes me as terribly arrogant.

As to life coaching myself. I think we are soul sisters in this. I want to heal, help and offer tangible hope. I feel I don't do enough today and hope that my future self has the ability and means to do what my younger self was unable to do.

molly said...

Fascinating question. not sure what I'd do but I know for sure I'm better qualified now to decide than i was way back then!
I'm also sure that there are intelligent leaders in Cuba who have better ideas for their country than the US does, and the knowledge ability to implement them, now that Fidel has stepped down!

thailandchani said...

Danielle, I'm glad to hear you say these things. It struck me as so condescending, so patronizing, so arrogant. There was no wonderment or speculation about what the Cuban people might choose. It was automatically assumed.


WendyB, with all due respect, the complaining is nice.. but what about real power to change things? If you are white, wealthy and powerful, perhaps you can make changes here. Otherwise, forget it. And besides, the US is not a democracy. It's a republic. And Cuba is viewed as simply another market base.


Julie, I'm concerned that regardless of how well intentioned it might seem (and it probably is well-intended on the part of average citizens who have been socialized to believe a certain way) but the dark underside (the future covert actions) and the overt hegemony is starting before Raoul Castro even has a chance to get his seat warm.

I'm sure some of the Cuban people have suffered. People have suffered here, too. They've suffered in Thailand. Life is suffering.


Amy, 30 is a perfect age! :)

As for your other comment, yes, it has caused a lot of trouble. When I was in Thailand, I was listening to the news coverage which is far more expansive than it is here. I was able to listen to a lot of foreign newscasts. People around the world are scared senseless of the US.

Is it any wonder?


Mariposa, a slight nitpick: It is not "my" way. I do get what you're saying though and absolutely agree that Cuba has the right to self-determination. It's not just another tropical playground for the US.

Being a nurse.. yes.. I do think it sounds like a really good idea. Such a meaningful way to spend a life.


Carla, I agree.. obviously. :)

As for getting started, well, I'm a bit past that age.. but what are you waiting for? :) It seems to me you've designed a rather lovely life though already.


Emily, no. I don't think so. :)


Reflecting, sometimes I do wish I'd had a life coach when I was younger. It probably would have made a big difference. All of my energy was given to mere survival.. and it could have been different.



Anvilcloud said...

I'm never quite sure about the what would you do differently concept. Think of the butterfly effect and the resultant storm. One change could completely alter who and what we are now. But I know what you mean, and there are a few things I might like to adjust all else being equal.

painted maypole said...

i usually try not to go down the road of what my life would be if I could go back and redesign it, because I have a husband and a beautiful child, and although my life is not all that I dreamed it would be 15 years ago, it is, in some ways, much more (and in some ways, much less, but why dwell on that?)

Anonymous said...

I like to help people, but definitely in a non-medical way. Of the jobs I've had, I've done best in "service" roles, where I was assisting people in some way.

I want to do "happy" work, so what comes to mind is: travel agent, aesthetician, helping new mothers...I saw a woman today with two children of another race, and thought maybe I could do something in the field of adoption - though I know absolutely nothing about it.

A year ago I thought I'd invest in one of those Interest/Profile analyses, but haven't moved on it. I will do it!

ewe are here said...

I'm not sure most Americans expect Cuba to transition into a mini-America. But I do think most Americans want democracy for the Cuban people, meaning they want them to have the freedom to choose the kind of government they want, the freedom to travel, the freedom to leave if they want to... or come back.

And I sincerely hope our foreign policy in regards to Cuba changes soon as a result of Castro's departure.

thailandchani said...

Anvil, I do know what you mean. In some respects, I agree and in others I don't. It's hard for me to grasp the idea that everything is perfect, just as it is - or even that we are always doing exactly what we should be doing.

In my case, I think some guidance probably would have been good, especially from someone who wanted me to be who I am.. not who they wanted me to be.


PM, true enough. I'm not totally unhappy with who I've become.. but I do believe I could have been more fulfilled.


De, those sound like good jobs for you.. all of them! Especially travel agent. :)


Ewe, I hope, too, that the Cuban people will be left to decide for themselves what they want. Democracy isn't right for every country.. and their own cultural values need to be respected.

I'm just sayin' :)


storyteller said...

I suspect I was meant to be a teacher, but I wish someone had suggested I could be a writer way back when. I would have been a teller of stories in the written and oral tradition ... (stories teach too, right?). My sister would have made an excellent nurse (or doctor) but I love to read and write and enjoy lots of "alone time" ... so methinks a writer's life would have suited me fine.
Hugs and blessings,

heartinsanfrancisco said...

While I would never have given up raising my children, if I had not had them I would have loved to work with wild animals like Jane Goodall, Dian Fosse and the people who lived among wolves for many years before reintroducing them to Yellowstone.

I would also have liked to have Margaret Mead's life in the South Pacific.

Girlplustwo said...

i think most things the US has done in the recent years has been extremely arrogant, so no surprises here.

i would have been an international relief worker, right in the mix of the worst sort of things, doing what i could to help.

flutter said...

it's an election cycle, what did you expect them to say?

"Why yes! Power has been given to castro's brother, all things are exactly as they were, now back to the caucus!"

It's all a soundbite opportunity.

JCK said...

Yes, it seems arrogant.

If I designed a life for myself, I would have gone to a small women's college and majored in creative writing.

Sai Hijara - Ferraris said...

Chani, yes, it's supposed to be in the first person perspective..."MY" maybe I was typing like I was talking to the US gov't something! LOL I don't proof-read, and I never learn... :(

Sorry for that... :(

Angela said...


Arrogant? There should be another word for it it's so arrogant.

If I could design my life, I think I would be an writer/astrologer/blogger! I could work from anywhere, travel around, and I would be interested in my work! What a concept, huh? Hey, at least I get to do those things as hobbies - although as hobbies, alas, they don't come with travel.

niobe said...

I'm glad I didn't get to design my life. I'm pretty sure that I would have made it even more of a train wreck than it already is.

thailandchani said...

Storyteller, I wonder if so much of us gets crushed under the need for security. A writer's life wouldn't be a secure one, not by current standards. Imagine if it could be different. It can! :)


Susan, Margaret Mead, yes! That's actually why I studied sociology in college. I thought I might be able to do something like that. If only.... :)

The wild animals, too.. absolutely!


Jen, you would be very good at that and if I had to make a SWAG, I'd say you will do it. You are far too valuable to get stuck in everyday American life. And you are still young enough...

That's my opinion and I'm stickin' to it!


Flutter, of course you are correct. It's just so annoying to hear it when it becomes so transparent.


JCK, a small women's college! Ooooh, yes! That sounds wonderful! You are writing a book currently, aren't you?


Mariposa, no problem. I get you.. and I got you.


Angela, you are so right! There should be a stronger word. Megalomania comes to mind. :)

All of those things sound perfect for you! Astrologer, especially!


Niobe, I suspect the opposite.



meno said...

I was thinking about the arrogance when i heard that bit if news on TV. Yuck.

I should have been a physical therapist.

Angela said...

I should have followed my dream and just tried to write. Even if it was a struggle. I'd be happier, I know.

Megalomania: yes. Perfect.

Brandi Reynolds said...

see that's what gets me-like trying to enforce democracy in the middle east.

sometimes, democracy doesn't work and isn't going to work based on culture or whatever.

that doesn't mean there aren't other good options-democracy is not the only good option.

Jen said...

Yes, we continue to live in ignorance that our way is best. YIKES.

I think I would have pursued writing earlier, or taught high school English instead of starting with elementary school.

But I'm also very happy with the paths I've chosen, especially since my sister died, which was my wake-up call that we only have so much time on this earth.