Life At Point C

Experiencing Life along the Silk Road

Lessons from Kyrgyzstan: I Can’t Control Everything

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In the Matrix Trilogy the plot centers around choice, and at the end of the second movie (spoiler alert) Neo is presented with the truth that choice is all an illusion. That no one, even he, really has a choice. As Americans coming to Kyrgyzstan I believe the illusion we have is control. We come from a place where we can control many factors of our environment because there are many things that are constant and “just work.” There is little fear of electricity going out, having no water, or having no internet access. It’s just there. If the repairman says he’ll be at your home at a certain time, he’ll be there (although I do know this isn’t always the case). We make plans to meet someone on a certain day at a certain time, and when it doesn’t work out we reschedule. That’s our culture.

The culture here is different. Often, if something comes up unexpectedly plans cannot be rescheduled for a later time. Many times I have set up my order of business for the day and have had to either move tasks around or settle for getting only two things done, which in our part of the world is a huge accomplishment.

Now that the weather has been warm our electricity is not as stable as it was when it was cold. This means that any internet-related work cannot be started (or completed) and clothes can’t be washed. Luckily we have a gas burning stove, but we can’t predict when it will go out and will need to buy another tank. We make sure to keep on top of bills because a late payment means that it’ll take at least a couple days to get utilities back on. Back to back appointments are difficult to manage because if one doesn’t happen on time then all get backlogged. In some cases this is okay, like when it comes to unexpected visits with friends or extra long talks with students.

The result of the lesson learned is flexibility: There is more than one way to skin a cat. There are other days to get things done. Some duties can wait. When those days of power and water outages come, some times it is best to eat by candlelight, take Ryan outside for some fresh air, and go to bed a little earlier. Really, the only thing I can control is my reaction to the outside factors and environment, and not letting those factors control me.


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