Colombian Ingenuity

I read a great blog post about the abilities of Colombians to resolve things and figure out how to navigate life on it’s own sometimes very unjust terms. I highly recommend this blog for anybody who is interested in learning more about life in Colombia from the perspective of a single British woman living in Bogota:

http://bananaskinflipflops.com/2014/01/30/colombians-catch-me-if-you-can/

This blog post reminded me of a conversation I had with a close Colombian friend a few days ago. After I finished sharing with her my worries about my oldest becoming a teenager, about my middle daughter’s school being less than stellar, about the new maid fitting into our family (go ahead, roll your eyes…), about the girls growing up in a culture that is neither mine nor my husbands, about not knowing when is the best time for the kids to move to the US (Ok, maybe I was PMS’ing because everything seemed overwhelming and complicated that day), my friend looked at me and said,

“Natalie, it’s like you want everything to be perfect. Life is not perfect. There are always issues that you have to deal with.”

Her comment made me think. I do want everything to be perfect. And I think it’s a cultural malaise. Most people I know in the US (admittedly middle upper class without big financial woes, for the most part) want their lives to be perfect. We want our children’s lives to be prefect. We spend lots of time, energy, money dissecting what is not perfect and working hard to fix it. We think that there is something wrong with the imperfections that exist in our lives, be they financial problems or career issues or marital woes or a few extra pounds or perhaps our kid didn’t get the lead in the school play or make the baseball team. Even if everything is “going well”, we stress about “balancing it all” and being a good parent, spouse, worker, friend, etc. Basically anything being less than perfect is seen as a problem that needs to be fixed…ASAP.

In Colombia, on the other hand, people assume that things are not going to be perfect. They would probably laugh at the mere idea of life being perfect. Who would think such a crazy thing? Everybody knows that life is hard, unfair and full of people ready to screw you. So nobody here seems to get particularly stressed out when things don’t work or don’t go the way they want.  They assume that this is how it is going to be and get on with it. They don’t spend much time analyzing why things aren’t the way they should be, they come up with creative solutions to make things work to their advantage. I have to admit this way of thinking leads to a lot less stress. I am trying to learn from the masters… but I can’t do it perfectly yet.

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