From my notes in November of 2003: “You paint with your left hand,” she said. “I thought you were right handed?”
“I am,” I said. “I just paint with my left hand.”
“How interesting. Which hand do you use to shoot a gun?”
My face wrinkled. “I’m from the city. I’ve never held a gun.”
“What? What kind of man will you be if you’ve never shot a gun?”
She was from Alabama. One day after she hung up the phone I said, “When you talk on the phone I can tell you’re from the South.”
She gave me a look that would corrode metal. “I speak slowly when I talk to my family,” she said.
“Right,” I said. “What’s your family like?”
“They wouldn’t care for you, not unless you can dig a hole.”
“Dig a hole? How hard can that be?”
“Why would you think it’s easy?” I walked into the yard and she handed me a shovel. I dug. It was pathetic.
Digging holes, firing guns, was I missing something? I thought so, which is why leaving America was easy. To think, a few thousand years ago if someone left their family or birthplace, they would be committing suicide. But today thanks to reality t.v. and chicken nuggets, I’m still alive!
So in New Zealand, I’ve dug a few holes and shot a few bullets1. But who cares! The most important lesson I’ve learned is about territorial vanity. I thought it was American, but it’s not. It’s everywhere.
Everyday I hear people say, “I’m from here – and you’re not. Here is better than there, because if there were better than here, I wouldn’t be here, but there.2 3”
Every country in the world has its charm. They each have advantages and disadvantages, but unfortunately both America and New Zealand share the thought, “Stop complaining. If you don’t like it here, leave.”
This way of thinking is wrong to me.4 It does not make sense. You are digging your own grave.
And I thought I left this patriotic shit behind in America?
How I wish that were true.
1. Ironic isn’t it?
2. JAFA, the Hutt, the South Island.
3. Midwest, Texans, New York City.
4. In business, doesn’t complaining give the smart entrepenuer a competitive advantage? Why isn’t this principle applied?
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