The search for meaning

22 May

I feel the fragility of life more keenly these days than I ever have before. This is my age and the impact my parents’ deaths showing. But it’s being away from home as well. Living here, I am way outside my comfort zone on about a gazillion different levels (I know, you might not have noticed, I’ve been keeping it to myself).

If I were to tell you each of the reasons I feel uneasy here, for many of them you would scoff. No, really, you would. There’s the obvious reasons and one or two of them are big, important things, but mostly, it’s a never-ending succession of small, tiny, itsy-bitsy things that leave me, each day, flabbergasted, trying to understand, but increasingly certain that for me, the place is incomprehensible.

Look at this article for example. In the town where I grew up, lads, young blokes, however you describe them, would have done the same kind of thing. I’ve been in cars that were driven by boys doing dumb things. This is not a culturally-specific event.

Only where I grew up, it wouldn’t have been so…I don’t know, so in your face. And plus, we were a working class community, with not so much money to burn on the roads.

I don’t know what it is that I’m trying to say here, what conclusion I’m trying to draw. The mister drives along that road a couple of times each week, my mother died in a car accident, I have my own two young boys to guide, I like public transport…of course watching this makes my heart race, my breaths shallow, the shoulder muscles tense.

But there’s something more to it than that. Something about my powerlessness that re-awakens or, more precisely, reinforces, my uneasiness. Perhaps it’s just that all over the world, middle-aged women are invisible to young men in cars. And it worries me.

Interestingly, if we try to go directly to the clip on youtube from here, it seems to have been blocked, but we can view it through the newspaper just fine. I don’t understand.

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8 Responses to “The search for meaning”

  1. planetnomad May 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    I can relate and I think part of the way you’re feeling is inevitable when living in another culture. Just the fact that things happen that you don’t understand–that people shout things in Arabic on the streets that prob have nothing to do with you but you just don’t KNOW–that causes a lot of unsettlement. Like you said, all those little things that are incomprehensible.
    I’m not even addressing the other factors you mention–grief, driving stress, etc. That clip is amazing! They’re worse than Rabati drivers, and that is really saying something!

  2. Frances May 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Young men – oops, there’s no Aus word to describe these 16-25 year olds, is there? But, they are certainly not yet men – are moderately idiotic.
    Doing donuts at a private party, driving too fast etc, seem to be a rite of passage.
    Otoh, boombox blaring, loud exhausts, and this kind of showing off is a public announcement that you did poorly at school, exams, or at attaining any kind of qualifications for anything.

    They need a good slapping, and, in a perfect world, would be sent off to North Korea for re-education.
    That they are tolerated and allowed to endanger others, is foul. And unacceptable.

  3. Kate May 24, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    That’t the things with culture shock. It’s a shock.

    When I was in China, it was things like not knowing how friendly to be when I walked into a shop. No one says ‘thankyou’ to service people. Things like that – the bigs things are, in some ways, easier to dealw ith because they are more obvious. But it’s the little things that shape your everyday, and are so personal.

  4. franzy May 24, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    Being avid Top Gear fans, you and I, I immediately thought of this section from last year’s shows:

    Internationally, at least, the Middle East seems to be made entirely of expensive race cars and straight roads with no one on them. Does this impression affect the locals?

  5. suze May 24, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    I sense that basically you feel afraid of dying away from home – or dying before you can get home. I’ve had that feeling myself, triggered by a war when I lived in a foreign country. I moved back to Australia on the strength of it.

  6. mary May 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    “the fragility of life” – it’s been on my mind too – maybe it is an age thing as you say – being dislocated cannot help at all..

  7. Melody May 24, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

    I only saw this clip today on Gulf.com After I had a whinge on my FB status about particular drivers, MrL pointed me in the direction of the same video and I was sooo shocked – but then not really. It took my breathe away.

    If you look at You Tube and put in Crazy Arab Drivers you wonder how the camera guy is still living!

    This makes me so angry – I too grew up in a country town and the most rebellious thing I ever saw with young males driving were going 120k’s an hour – which you know is relatively slow in this country.

  8. ampersand duck May 27, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    We have a good Aussie work to describe men of that age who do things like that: Dickheads.

    sigh.

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