(It came during training for work.)
*note that Yirga’s words are in italics
An angle called Yirga descended upon Mekelle University, Arid Campus last night and he gave me ideas about my questions about mattering and then some.
“There are three relationships that are the bases to become a better person,” he said. “One is the relationship with the self. The second is the relationship between you and your vocation and the third one is your relationship with others.
“I once asked myself after reading the bible, if we were made in God’s image why do we look so different from each other? Does God’s nose look like my nose or my brother’s? Is God tall like me or short like my friend here? What does God look like? The answer I was able to come up with for myself is that perhaps we don’t look like the creator in physical posture but rather in character. We aren’t only creations but we are creators too, are we not?”
I am not a very religious person but I’d like to be spiritual. His reference just went straight to my head. It definitely makes one feel something to be referred to as a creator. He used it to point out just how divine human beings are. He used it to make us feel like we should give ourselves some worth. Then he immediately ruined it by mentioning just how fucked up we can be.
“Donkeys, in my opinion, are much better than men. When a donkey wants to get laid, he goes to the female donkey and starts sniffing. He does this for three reasons. 1) He checks if she’s pregnant. Some human men actually think sex with a pregnant woman is better but the donkey will not have sex with a pregnant female donkey. 2) He can tell by sniffing if she’d recently had sex. And if she did, he doesn’t want to get with a female donkey that’s recently been with another male donkey. Some human men will take any woman, two women, three women, four and sometimes sheep, dogs,sexless livers…. 3) He checks if she’s ready and hot. If she’s not ready, he bites her around the neck and the back to get her there. Human men may not care if she’s ready. They would climb on a woman straight up fighting them.”
Yirga used this example to explain we are only as worthy as we make ourselves. We could be divine creatures or we could be less than asses. Literally. We get to choose.
Vocations are our purposes. What we are here to do. I personally hope that we get to choose our purposes. I mean I want to become an author but I do not know if that was something predestined for me or if I chose it. If I fail, what would be the reason? Behold the following example.
“I knew a student in the other campus who tried to take on two degrees at the same time. She believed that instead of wasting her time watching TV in the evening, she could learn something. She had long beautiful hair. One morning, she came with her head shaved. I was surprise and I asked her why she cut her hair. She said that styling her hair in the morning wasn’t doing much for what she really had her eye on. She got her two degrees and graduated with flying colors…..”
I know it sounds like a redundant advice to focus on what you want but I think we need to hear it again and again and again. We shouldn’t really be wasting time and money and energy on things that don’t really make a difference to us and things that in fact hold us back from what we really want. Like say, one spends way too much money buying a brand shoe when really, a regular no brand shoe will provide the same amount of use to your feet. The society and class related benefits are not lost to me but the real question is should that matter all that much?
I study chemical engineering. I think the field is interesting but I absolutely hate a lot of things about it. I actually just want to be a writer and the thing that would make me happy would be writing and reading day in day out. But the thing that’s holding me back is that I have to give time to something else. I can’t quit chemical engineering because I don’t have confidence that I will become a writer good enough to financially sustain myself later on and there are other concepts related to the many external things that demand that I need to have a degree. (Plus my uncle would kill me) It’s the hard truth but the truth nonetheless. We have things holding us back from what we really want and they are usually things that we control but aren’t strong and determined enough to.
The relationship between one person and his/her vocation should be an unbreakable, uninterruptable bond. The result is maximized happiness.
Whether we want to admit it or not, the one thing we humans are really going for in our lives is really just happiness. Every single thing we do; love, eat, fuck, sleep, watch the sunset, teach, write,….everything is really just to be happy in the end. Ironically enough even self-harming people who claim to be miserable all the time and blame the world enjoy the pain a little. That’s it. We all just want to be happy and we all just need to notice the small things that make us happy no matter how unconventional.
Yirga’s memory: “One night, I received a phone call. They said that someone had died and they needed someone to clean and prepare the body for burial for them. I was sad that someone had died but I couldn’t help but feel happy that I was needed for such an important job.”
Another story I love is one from the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Junior received news that his sister died while he was in school and he was told that his father would be coming to pick him up. He was torn apart about his sister’s death and he was going insane. He instantly started thinking that everyone he loves just dies. His paranoia drove him to think that perhaps his father wouldn’t make it, that he would get into some kind of accident on his way to the school. When his father’s car appears unharmed of course, Junior goes crazy with happiness because his father is alive.
So my point here is, we really just need to notice. There are things to make us happy even in places we least expect them.
The third relationship is with others according to Yirga. I don’t know much about this. My relationship with other people is a very questionable one so I don’t even know what to write for this part. But I did love something he said, “Respect others all the time no matter who they are. And don’t do it because they’ll repay you or because they have money or talent or class. Respect them just because they are human beings.”
I love my mind sometimes. You could be talking about peanuts and I would somehow find a way to interconnect peanuts with life or something. Yirga was there to talk about voluntarism and self-betterment. Something about his speech translated to “We can matter and pass through,” in my mind.
I am the only Qal Fessehaye that this world is allowed. There is highly unlikely a chance that there will ever come another one just like me. It means that I am unique whether I want to be or not. But unique doesn’t really mean to say important. I started thinking, if I disappeared today would the world loose anything at all? Would people around me loose anything at all? I don’t want to tell you the answer I came up with so I’ll tell you my friend’s answer. I asked him, “If you died today, would people around you lose anything?”
“Of course,” he said. “My dorm mates would kill each other. I am the peace maker. I help some of my classmates study so that’s a couple of people who’d definitely fail without me. I help some of them cheat too. I am currently dating two girls. At least one of them will miss me. My mother would die….”
So I guess we do matter. Some of us aren’t really dating two people and some of us don’t have parents but we can still matter….
Us doctors, engineers, lawyers, shoe shiners, shop keepers….can matter because of our good will. People these days make the mistake of not lifting a finger to do anything unless they get some form of payment in return. But I’m sure if I got up tomorrow and fed the old man who sits outside our campus, he will be thankful for me. He will notice if one day I am not around anymore. Mattering isn’t only sitting on some throne or selling out arenas I guess. If I go and take care of people who really needed it, if as a doctor I helped people who can’t afford a twenty birr hospital card, if as an engineer I build a house for the homeless on my dime, if as a lawyer I helped clean the disgusting sludge factories puke up in people’s water sources, if as a shoe shiner I did my job right or if I taught my little brother how to shine shoes….someone will definitely notice when I’m gone.
P.S. There will probably be a fourth part.