I will not get into the details here, but basically, today somebody pulled the biggest Dick Move I have ever experienced in my life. I am defining Dick Move as a move that, by its dickish nature, identifies you as a huge, huge dick. That is all I care to say on the subject right now, except that this particular Move directly affects me and Zeb, and it would be catastrophic if it was not for Principal Karma, who is a saint.
I've been thinking a lot about what differentiates people on the most basic levels. I mean, we have some pretty good Bhutanese friends, good enough to really understand what motivates them. These friends are healthy, educated men in their mid-20s, so what motivates them is primarily sex and beginning a fruitful, prosperous career in order to attract a classier brand of woman to have sex with. There are some definite if subtle differences between us and the Bhutanese, though, however well we get along. I've started to conclude that what really makes the difference is not beliefs, background, or ideology. What makes the difference is priorities.
I've discovered something about myself in this first year of Real Life: I have a lot of pride in myself as a competent and professional person. Even if by nature I am basically a lazy slob, when I have a job to do, some evolutionary-cultural-familial switch clicks, and suddenly I am all about getting that shit done, and well.
This strikes at what I have observed to be one of the most fundamental dichotomies in Bhutanese-American priorities. Maybe I should do this as a list, because lists are easier for my tween reader base to digest.
AMERICAN PRIORITY: BEING GOOD AT STUFF
BHUTANESE PRIORITY: NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE
This is such a basic truth of life I don't need to go over it. I consider myself to be really good at stuff, as do many Americans. I have overwhelming pride about stuff, and being good at it, better, even, than other people are. This pride motivates a solid majority of my behavior, especially in my professional capacities.
As the Bhutanese seem to have tacitly discovered, this priority makes you an asshole. It just does. Bhutanese people are not assholes. The worst ones we've met are driven by the faults of stupidity or ignorance, but I am pretty sure we have yet to meet a bona fide asshole. As a compromise, they are not generally that good at stuff, which does not bother them at all. At times, it absolutely infuriates me. But that is because I am an asshole.
AMERICAN PRIORITY: HEALTH
BHUTANESE PRIORITY: LIFE
This is something else that has been written about ad nauseam by better writers (and thus bigger assholes) than myself, but I am forever thinking about my nutrient intake here, or how walking alongside unregulated Indian trucks is affecting my lungs, or about trying to have a meal that is neither fried nor covered in cheese. Our friend Ugyen made us a salad last week composing of--in its entirely--a tomato and salt. In about equal parts.
Needless to say, the Bhutanese are stick-thin and vibrantly healthy (except for Wangchuck) despite, and probably because, they are not constantly in a fit of nervous anxiety about their Body Mass Index. Instead, they just...do stuff. Outside. They sleep well. They relax. They probably do not have a Dzongkha word for "Health maintenance organization." It's just life, you know? You don't think about it all the time.
AMERICAN PRIORITY: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RACIAL POLITICS, DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE AND ITS EFFECTS ON POLITICAL STABILITY, THE STABILITY OF TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND INDUSTRY AS PARTS OF THE GDP, POPULAR CULTURE, THE MEDIA, NET NEUTRALITY
BHUTANESE PRIORITY: TEA
It's a cheapshot, but it's not an insult.