Remembering that we are immigrants

Jan 25, 2020 | 19 comments

I hosted a meeting at my home several months ago. When it was over, a couple approached me and introduced themselves, the woman presenting me her business card as one would a precious jeweled box. It was embossed and featured multiple bullet points, front, and back. The first entry detailed her successful rush into the desired sorority, the last listed the senior executive title she held for a firm I never heard of. I was perplexed. Surely, I had no intention of disrespecting her, but I had absolutely zero interest in, or use for, the information she provided. I didn’t care what she had done, my interest was in who she is, and in doing so I came to a clearer awareness of my own self and the distractions that clot my heart.

I have more friends and deeper friendships here after three years than I did in the states after living there for almost a lifetime. And I am not alone. One of the more common burdens newcomers discard is, “It’s not like I was disliked, I was just lonely, but rarely knew it. I just didn’t know anyone or know how to. And, I was afraid.”

Fortunately, all of that is behind us now. We have time to tell stories, ours and those of others, we have time to reflect on the thread that guided us here, and most importantly, we have time to listen to our own breath, and to imagine ourselves at peace in a safe, tranquil and lovely country.

A sizeable percentage of the gringos who moved here are good-hearted, honest and hard-working folks who were summarily dismissed by their homeland, forced off ancestral lands and compelled to find somewhere else to live out their lives with dignity. They are not expats — some elite subset dreamed up in a boardroom  —  they, and we, are immigrants. Pure and simple. It is an important distinction to note.

The Wall Street Journal, in an article titled, ‘Who is an expat, anyway?’ defined it this way: “Some arrivals are ex-pats; others as immigrants, and some are simply migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status.

Oh, my!

It seems that the editors of the WSJ, “The Daily Diary of the American Dream,” might be a bit démodé, but I suppose they were caught in the net of magical thinking while wishing for a return to the halcyon days of colonial elites being pampered by people beaten into submission — a wish that lingered in their dream state for a tad too long.

By the way, I’d like to see the WSJ list of acceptable countries of origin. I wonder if Seychelles, Brunei, or the Czech Republic made the grade.

We came to a country where very different propriety is in order.

It is poor form to simply blurt, “Hola,” and charge right into whatever you want to say. Instead, a polite conversation begins with commenting on, and complimenting the passing of time, be it morning, afternoon, or evening. This consistent recognition of being guided by time is an intrinsic acknowledgment that time is the elemental commodity that we share and that shaping our time is the basic element of self-expression as well as responsibility.

We can all take comfort in knowing that we are as dependent on time as the shimmering light of morning and that the glowing cobalt of evening is eternal and forever and always will be.

Robert Bradley

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