Friday, August 15, 2008

Not Everything I Think About Is Angry

I know of late it's been a little crabby here, and I'm really not especially angry in "real life". Fatalistic, perhaps, but not angry. And believe it or not, I discovered (well, it came up in conversation with "my Rabbi*", and he was the one that discovered it) a positive attribute of this country that has not yet been destroyed. He's a Rabbinical student who just completed a year of study in Israel, and will be completing his training in Berlin, and then remaining there to help re-establish Judaism in Germany. He's lived all over and reports an interesting (positive) quality that is so far unique to the US.

I forget how the subject came up, but I may have said something flip (as is my wont) about chucking this whole IT thing and becoming something else, like a sex toy inventor, container ship crane operator, chemist, or a porno cameraman. There are lots of other jobs that I could see myself doing. However it came up, Paul allowed as how that was a very American thing to do. Turns out, that in other nations, it's not really an option. Not that there are any rules against it- it's just not something that occurs to anyone. The educational systems are tailored in a manner that once you've decided upon a vocation, the academic curriculum are tailored accordingly. This is sort of an extreme opposite to being undeclared. There are no rules that say you can't change- it's just not widely recognized as an option.

I put a fair amount of trust in Paul's judgement on this, and if it's true that would be an interesting situation. Beyond the obvious advantages of geology and geography, I think this willingness to re-invent, to challenge- to abandon the pretexts of convention, are what actually made this country great. That and being open to stealing everything that wasn't already claimed by white people. When exactly we went from a nation of (white, male and privileged) enlightened rule breakers to a bunch of milquetoast alpha-wave zombies is unclear but I think it began around WWI.

Apparently Pauley was met with some measure of skepticism about his sincereity or ability to complete his academic pursuits, stemming from the distrust of unfamiliar things. Paul mentioned that some advisor or muckety muck over there said as much in a direct and matter of fact manner (oh, how I am weary of false modesty and political sensitivity). This person said that they hadn't previously had any confidence or faith in Paul's willingness, determination, and drive to complete this study as a consequence of it being a significant personal re-invention.

So, is it contagious? My last post mentioned emigration. Could this be a point of positive or negative discrimination? How can the existence of this characteristic be determined? I've make wildly significant changes in my life in terms of vocation and location, but is this something that can be quantified if someone hasn't demonstrated it?

I think it's an interesting thing to ponder, and it makes me want to travel even more so that I can see this with a less partial eye.

* While I've got zero Jewish heritage and am an unabashed atheist, I was enjoying a nice lunch with my friend, the soon-to-be Professor Rabbi Dr. Paul (yes, all of those) and we ran kind of long. When we got back, we were harassed about the delay, to which Pauley said something to the effect of "a fellow can lose track of time when he's talking to his Rabbi". True enough. I took his use of the possessive words "his Rabbi" as a remarkably kind gesture of inclusion. He's not the sort to say such things out of mere courtesy.



Blogger Hammer said...

When I was in school I was pushed toward vocational studies because one teacher labeled me as dumb. It may have been my hispanic surname, but her flippant PMS tainted remark stunted my education to the point where they told me not to bother with college.

I sure wish I had a rabbi to talk to back then.

Honestly, I don't think you will be satisfied working in any field that doesn't offer self determination. Maybe striking out on your own as an entrepreur would offer a challenge that could lead to great things.

Good luck on whatever you decide.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

Nice to have someone to talk to without having to, you know, convert. I like Paul already!

I wasn't aware that our professional flexibility was an oddity around the world. The thing is, though we CAN pick up and remake our lives, precious few of us DO - most people are content to stay right where they are, regardless of how miserable they may be. Dumbasses...

2:26 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

You flip?? NEVER! lol
BIL was talking to me about his boss the other day after they had a going away party for him.. The plant closed and his boss got shipped back to Korea. Anyhow he was so sad to leave the states he really enjoyed it here. The guys were asking him why he didn't just apply for a new work visa and get work at another plant here. He told them that was not done in their culture. Once you start with a company you are pretty much owned by them until you retire or get fired. It's kind of some loyalty deal. BIL was sad to see him go also because he was just such a nice guy and wonderful worker.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

I am surprised that Seattle brings on such sentiments.

I always imagined it to be a rainy Eugene...

10:38 AM  
Blogger Paul Strasko said...

Scott, you honor and humble me.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You would make an excellent porno cameraman if I do say so myself. LOL, Can't wait to see you! Miss T

12:40 PM  

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