giovedì, febbraio 19, 2009

The Grateful Bourgeoise

To paraphrase Mel Brooks, it's good to be anglo-bourgeoise. Seriously. We had a friend over for dinner last night with whom we were discussing our future plans in a desultory sort of way, and there was a gap between our understanding and his; he was baffled by the idea that we'd leave a situation where we both have stable jobs that we don't specifically hate. He was from a deep South European country with traditionally shy-high unemployment, among other social disasters, and it reminded me of chatting with Jeebus this Christmas in Calabria, and him being endlessly amused by my wishing aloud that I could get made redundant next December. To me, there's be nothing amusing and everything lovely about the prospect. Nice big fat Belgian payoff, pogey at 80% of my final paycheque, maybe some language courses and then bam, we fuck off somewhere with our wheelbarrows full of euros - I mean, it's a fucking wet dream, getting made redundant next December, although I'm trying to be conscious that there will be difficult psychological issues in terms of my pride, if it happens.

Anyways, this guy from the deep South we had over for dinner and Jeebus both, they're bourgeois too, by the standards of their own countries and indeed in terms of the relative standard of their living to ours. But they have a really understandable psychological attachment to job stability, even at the expense of satisfaction, that the F-word and I never had to have inculcated in us, because we grew up in such prosperous countries.

Now I can go back home to Canada and whine and complain about the intensely profligate and unsustainable lifestyle there, and I wouldn't be wrong; it is profligate and unsustainable. And I'm not saying I wasn't given rather more work ethic than I think I need, or even than I think is best calculated for my happiness. But I am really, really grateful that growing up in such a prosperous country in such a prosperous way has left me fairly relaxed about some things many other people can't relax about. That's the real blessing of riches, maybe the only real blessing of riches, and one we can forget about to easily because it's negative, in a sense, rather than positive: there's a whole range of neuroses you just don't have to have. What a pity I seek to replace those neuroses so quickly with new and exotic ones, instead of spending a little more time dwelling on how lucky I am.

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