An education

Joey Garcia

I’m a first-generation minority from a poor and uneducated family. I attended a reputable university, have a great job and bought a home on my own. Yet I feel like I’ll always have to work hard while friends from wealthy families cruise on their parents’ bank accounts. I resent their lack of student loans. I am jealous of their free vacations and free down payments for dream homes. How can I stop feeling this way?

Vacation in the poorest neighborhoods of a Third, Fourth or Fifth World country. Doing so will immerse you into the healing awareness of what is really important: reaching back to pull someone else up. Concern yourself with what you must do to make existence easier for the desperately poor, the profoundly broken, and the deeply frightened or heartbreakingly lost people we share the planet with. Shifting your moral compass guarantees a change of heart. I know this because I dropped out of university three times, struggling to get the money together to complete a bachelor’s degree while also supporting myself completely. Like you, my friends were bankrolled. I also knew students who coasted through university and law school on welfare. Years later, I scraped the money together for a home I could afford while the parents of friends gifted them down payments and more. But guess what? I chose to get a degree and to purchase a home. So did you. Celebrate the freedom of choice.

Three years ago, I was on the bus and was physically jolted by the sight of a woman. She sat next to me, and after 10 minutes of silence (I am extremely shy), the bus lurched and we looked at one another with mock terror. That broke the ice and we talked. The next day she sat with me again. As the bus approached my stop, I turned to say goodbye. Her expression was of painful longing. Then everything around me disappeared. I was in a dark place that I can only describe as her mind. I felt her as wearily lonely, long-disappointed, wanting a deep connection. The dark monolith of her expectations of a man appeared: heroic, of mythological proportions. A vague light materialized. I resisted. That’s when I emerged from her to see her serene face. I exited the bus. It was hours before my head returned to normal. I concluded many things about her from that experience, but never talked to her about it. I was afraid that she would think I was crazy.

Well, honey, you had a little episode of crazy. The question is whether you disassociate on a regular basis or if this was your body’s internal bartender mismeasuring a chemical cocktail just once. You can’t string me along your “Look, Ma, I’m a psychic mind reader” storyline, because I don’t believe you were in her mind. Ev-ah. You interpreted her expression as a painful longing and found yourself in a dark place in your own mind. (That’s right: You never left home.) There you encountered emotions that a shy person would rather not admit to: wanting a deep connection, wearily lonely and so on. Your fear of what a woman wants (a hero) loomed. You feared you could not qualify (which is how you keep yourself out of deep connections). All of this occurred within a few seconds. That’s why she looked serene when you returned to reality from the temporary misfiring of your brain. Concluding anything about her from this experience prohibits you from learning about yourself. So start over by focusing only on you. And, if you have endured other similar episodes, particularly ones that take you hours from which to emerge and that inspire personal or social complications, please see a psychiatrist.

Meditation of the week
“If there were love of neighbor there would be no terrorism, no repression, no selfishness, none of such cruel inequities in society, no abductions, no crimes,” said Oscar Romero, a Catholic Bishop who served in El Salvador. Who do you love?

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