Sunday, March 15, 2009

What I dream about

I am a big dreamer. I have fun dreaming, daydreaming, fantasizing, and visualizing. My mind is never on sleep mode. It functions like a factory in which an assembly-line producing thoughts and dreams is on constantly. Long time ago, I used to dream about what it would be like to be wealthy. I went in a meeting once with my friend who was an Amway member, and a guy was giving a presentation about success and material wealth. He was strongly advising people to have a clear plan about their future; not such vague goal as wanting to be rich, but specific objectives to have a specific amount of money, to own a particular dream car, and to picture the dream house. In order to do so, the guy recommended us to pay a visit to some luxurious car dealership so that we could feed our imagination, to drive by some upper-class neighborhood to unlock our minds, and to read some inspirational books that will help us stay focus and driven, and to just project ourselves constantly into a fantasy world of things we definitely would be better off owning. I read the books, I went in more meetings, but I could never do what they were teaching.

First of all, I could never state an amount of money that I want to have. For me, money is a mean of exchange; nothing more, nothing less. I use it to purchase whatever it is I want: food, shelter, nice handbags; however, I don’t identify with it. Having more or less does not value or lessen me.

Second, I just enjoy my life as it is. Letting my mind wander into a future world filled with material possession is like cheating on the present. I’m usually very busy living la vida reál: getting up in the morning, eating my bowl of oatmeal, taking my daughter to school, and playing with my son or scolding him for being naughty, cooking my vegetables, getting frustrated when I can’t find a taxi, getting angry at the world, or being emotional over a news story, and then at night I am so tired that I have no choice but to crash into my bed.

Also, I’ve always known that the planet’s resources were limited. If that one-size-fit-all definition of success were to apply to every human being, we would need at least 15 more earth-like planets to accommodate everybody’s desires. Therefore, saving to go to a concert gives me something to look forward to. Going jogging with my 7-year-old sneakers is a great escape. In fact, those sneakers are more than sneakers. They are Haiti, youth, love, dreams, and hope.

But the most important reason I don’t obsess about material wealth as it is defined by many is that I don’t like putting a limit on myself. Stating that I want to have 823 million dollars would be limiting my mind. I like not knowing what to expect from the next day, the next minute or the next year. I like being able to be evolving. Who knows, at forty I’ll be able to run 10 miles nonstop on the treadmill. At 45, I’ll be a chiropractor or a software designer. At 50, I’ll become a Chef. And at 70, I’ll be dancing salsa or playing tennis. And If I die tomorrow, that will suck, but I won’t have any regret. My life is too perfect as it is.

I enjoy dreaming about a more perfect world though—a world in which ever Haitian would have access to food, water, shelter, education, and health care; a world in which women and men would have the same access to opportunities and resources; a world in which the gap between the haves and the have-nots will be connected by a bridge called humanity; a world in which God is not a long-bearded man sitting somewhere in space and waiting to send us to hell or heaven, but a world in which God will be seen on every face that we meet, on every smile that is cracked, or every sound of nature. These are the dreams I usually dream about.

But the other day, as I was waiting for my daughter at school—I got there a few minutes early—I had the pleasure to watch the Arab ladies who were also waiting, with one trying to impress the other by what she wears or what car she drives or how many maids she has. I realized that I was fortunate not to be confined in that bubble of success and materiality. While it takes me two minutes to put on some old jeans and a t-shirt, to strap my son around me in his cozy baby carrier, and to get in a taxi, these women must spend the entire morning getting ready for that subtle competition that take place every day, at the same moment, in front of the same gate. Thoughts were racing in my restless mind, when I heard someone calling me. I turned my head and saw this Lebanese woman. Well-dressed. Manicured. Louis Vutton bagged.

“So you don’t drive?”

“No, I answer", hoping that will put her curiosity to rest. But as the gates sprang open and people were rushing inside, I heard her ask “Why?”

“It’s complicated. I am not from a First-World country. When you have an American/French passport, you just change your national driver’s license into a UAE license. But me I have a Haitian passport. Although I have a driver’s license from the U.S., I have to go through a long process that can take up to a year to get a UAE license…”

“I’ve just got here, and I have the license already.”

“good for you!”

“I have a Canadian passport, that’s why!.” And her smile was so big, so superior, that I had to make a big effort not to laugh out loud.

“good for you!” I muttered.

By the time I got my daughter and hopped back in the taxi, she was literally clung to her Lexus’s horns while angrily maneuvering her way through the jammed little street. I never felt more liberated in my old jeans. And later that night, as I wore a girly little black dress, decent shoes, and make-up to go on a date with my husband, I was still laughing. Thank God I am a free woman!


yamini nair said...

Was really glad to see that someone else in a place too far away has same thoughts as mine! Though my mind too is a 24x7 factory of thoughts, I've never thought what would be my life 'tomorrow' :)

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

I guess it would have been illegal to slap Ms. Canada in in her face, but I could certainly understant the desire to do so.

By what criteria is Canada a first world country? Because the have a nuclear bomb? If so, then Russia, China, Pakistan and India are also "first world countries".

Are there any "first world" countries that are not white majority countries? No? What a coincidence!

It's like the 400 year-old "discovery" that Blacks and everyone who is not white is part of a different species race, and not part of the human race in which whites participate. We're not part of the "first world" and we're not part of the "first race", because those who are part say so.

And that's why it has to take you a year longer to get your license. It is not to keep you down and oppressed, but rather because you were BORN innately down and oppressed. Whites are not intentionally creating and doggedly perpetuating your oppressed and disadvantageous situation but merely ratifying that which nature has wrought, in the natural course of things.

Would Brazil be a "first world" country if it completed the extirmination of its Indian population, as the United States has almost completely done?

Or is "first world" a state of mind, which includes the exaltation of greed and avarice about the environment, the poor, the health of people's teeth (look at England, if you can bear to do so).

It's ironic that we have a such common expression as "first world", and yet I who read everything have no idea where it came from and what its criteria are.

When China buys everything that is worth having in the United States, produces all of its consumer goods and holds all of its debt, will the United States continue to be a "first world" country by virtue of the pinkinsh white skin of the people who live there? Will rampant obesity, diabetes and an infant mortality rate comparable with that of Cuba threaten the US's "first world" status.

My guess is "no". "First world" is a concept created by the same arrogant white people who discovered the continents that were already populated by others. Just as hundreds of thousands or millions of Black slaves died in the gold mines of Brazil so that the Portuguese could "discover" and repatriate the abundant gold there, so the term "first world" is a continent that whites have "discovered" in the 20th century, and which they continue to mine metaphorically to the detriment of all others. And that's why it takes you a year to get your drivers license while while people can get one in a few days.

Pascale said...

Mr. Holland,

Thanks for visiting my blog. How are things in Brazil?

you are absolutely right in your reasonning. Right now, China is not part of the 24 countries whose citizens can just change their national driver's licence into a UAE's licence. But I wonder what's going to happen after this economic downturn will have shattered the criteria upon which countries are classified into first, second, third world nations... it will be an interesting thing to witness.

I guess they will have to create other terms and expressions to classify this new reality. But as chinese, Brazilians, and Indians will be the ones in position of power, I wonder if they will be the ones classifying things in the near future.

As for Ms. Canada, she doesn't exist for me. So, it's impossible for her to get on my nerves. Poor woman! She's just a modern-day slave.

The only way I stand up to these people is to be who I am: a black woman who's just content with her black skin, her kinky hair, her thicker hips, and her beautiful and unique self! And that is truly amazing!

Jean-Junior said...

Dear Pascale,
A personal story is the best testimony. An Haitian woman living an UAE means she has no veil, she is black, she has jeans, she has a french accent, she buys ingredients to cook Haitian foods sometimes.

That blog is great. It makes everyone be reminded:"Life is too short to be unhappy for even one day"

Keep writing to enrich the mind and the soul of those in dire of reading's digest.


Pascale said...

Thanks JJJ!