Silence

It’s Friday, and it’s hot and wet and humid. Outside, the red rear lights of taxies reflect doubly over the wet pavement and it’s just past dinner, and I’m in a pensive mood. It’s been a rough couple of days back home, because I feel like I’ve had to lead a bit of a double life. On the one hand I’m a child practicing the ideals of filial piety. On the other hand I’m rebelling ever more strongly against what I perceive to be unfair assumptions and generalizations relating very strongly to the lifestyle I live right now. My mother is adamant against everything American, professing at the same time that at one point in the past that she had loved the country but now is increasingly disappointed at the state of current affairs. She brings up things like the Casey Anthony trial, the scrapping of the NASA program, the fact that Obama was elected — all to encourage her thoughts that the United States is spiraling down the drain.

It’s hard to come up with anything to convince her otherwise, particularly since she is wiser by her ages and is rarely wrong – “I will be soon to find that out”. The world outside of the United States is rosy, the one inside, almost sacrilegious. She won’t ever consider coming to California, stubbornly claiming she would rather not be “affected by the types of people who live there”. As a result she hardly takes anything I do seriously – the fact that I work at IDEO could be as insignificant as a job at McDonalds, and I have to merely contend with that with a smile and a shrug and a nod.

I don’t know how much of it is due to my own unwillingness to share about the trials and tribulations that have brought me to where I am right now. In a sense, I only want to share what is noteworthy to me, in the hopes that they will also see the reasons why I am excited about the things I do. But doing so means it’s very hard to communicate how much effort it takes, how much concentration is needed, how much discipline I need to get to where I am. I don’t want to feel like I have to say that out loud, but it bothers me greatly when the assumption is made that what I am doing is trivial. The term in Japanese is arubaito – part-time job with connotations of “the thing you do to tide the time when you have nothing better to do”. My summer job is not an arubaito, thank you. At least I like to think of it that way.

In a sense, I am having to contend with the looming reality that someday my parents are going to have to recognize that what I am doing is important to me and that it is something I want to continue doing. I feel less and less comfortable with the idea that I can set aside my aspirations in favor of those my parents have envisaged for me – I feel like I would be living another lie. The lie I live right now is a disparity between the way my parents imagine my life to be and the way I imagine my life to continue, but at least I feel I have my own two feet to thank for.

I guess in a similar way I realize that if my parents can hardly come to terms with the things I am doing right now in terms of work, they can also hardly come to terms with the type of people I surround myself with, including my girlfriend. She has been exceedingly supportive on my behalf, despite the tangible strains that come with knowing that her relationships to be me is clouded by the reality that I cannot fully share what I do and what I am passionate about without feeling like I am creating a rift in my own family. I know I cannot live this illusion forever, though.

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~ by allthenittygritty on July 9, 2011.

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