Monday, April 21, 2008

I was never that good at doing easy.

What should I wrote about tonight? One of the things I've adopted as a guiding light is a former soccer coach's advice: do easy.* Indeed.

Tonight, I'll write about the Portenos (residents of Buenos Aires, there should be a thing on the n, but I don't have an international keyboard). They are so friendly, so warm, so tactile. It takes a little bit of getting used to. Why is this chick who has a boyfriend kissing me on the cheek? I am confused...and wow, she is cute (uh, duh, she's Argentine. Redundant!) .

Compared to Americans, they are so friendly. They will put up with my awful language barriers. [I don't want to overemphasize their altruism; I think most realize that the chance to practice English with an American has value....yet, I do not want to overly discount their selfless patience with me.] In fact, it convicts me that I have not been patient with foreigners trying to learn English in America. I am very appreciative of how welcoming folks have been. It is very nice of them.

Is it supposed to be this easy to move to a new city and establish a social circle? I have done less well at this in places where I had so many more advantages. Of course, I have had some fortunate occurrences here, thanks to the efforts of friends to introduce me to their friends, as well as other fortunate things. I think some of it is my attitude, but I think quite a bit of it is just that the Argentines are a special people with an awesome and welcoming culture. It doesn't hurt that they know that tourism brings in jobs. And I have a sense that they are generally for anything that improves their economy.

I am also...well, I have un poquito de dinero. Some of mis amigos de Portenos study and work basically all day everyday all seven days of the week. I kibbitz, am relatively aimless, and make money only when I want to**, while folks work all day long so that they can play a little bit of soccer and have some sociability. Do I feel a little guilty? Yes, and I'm not even a rich kid. As I tried to explain to a friend, it's not that I really have money right now on my own personal scale of wealth, it's that I have the assurance of being able to be quite rich if I choose to be. If I feel guilty for anything, it is for my opportunity and my equivocation. Yet I've chosen not to take easy paths to material success, and I'm glad I haven't...yet, I could wake up penniless at 40 years old, go to a top 10 law school and be set. But this isn't about me. It's about a visceral understanding that smart, attractive people who seem prosperous do not have the advantages I have in this country. They can't go out to 5 star restaurants every night, order the best things on the menu and laugh it off.

I'm not special. I don't deserve better than them. I am tempted towards a long digression on happiness, but I'll close with this because I'm ready to go to bed: play the hand you are dealt. Use your God-given talents such that they have the highest expected value (though don't be afraid of variance, and I can't criticize variance-maximizing strategies).

* This is good advice. In soccer and life, you should usually make the easy pass rather than play the incredible ball or . Do easy, senor. If you know soccer, there are life lessons in this advice.

** I do attempt to use my time productively, but often more in a long-term manner than a short-term. See the rest of the post about opportunity.

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