Feb 132013

Apples and OrangesThe bus ride last Saturday night to the Kultur Shock concert enlightened me on the difference between actions that you do out of necessity and those that you do by choice.

Sticking with the bus analogy. On my commute to and from work, most people appear to be there by choice. They have jobs or school to go to, and they could drive but choose not to. Reasons differ: some refuse to pay exorbitant parking fees downtown, others believe in public transportation, others still—you can count me here—save a bundle not having a car and using alternatives. By contrast, outside the rush hours or on lines to/from East Portland, more people appear to be on the bus because they have no other transportation choices. In other words, they’re there out of necessity. Particularly after the evening commute, “it gets interesting on the bus,” as I’ve heard a fellow commuter say.

While differences in the utilization of public transportation arise primarily from differences in income, in your new country money, while very important, is only one factor in determining what you do. Early on into your immigration experience, you do things out of necessity. To establish yourself, you must obtain legal status, you must get a job, you must find a place to live. You must cope with the chagrins of the immigration experience.

But once those basics are taken care of, the range of your choices expands. Your freedom to do what you want increases. You can go to shows, take trips, stare at the clouds—whatever sparks your interest or passion. You regain your autonomy.

You can think of this akin to movement up the Maslow pyramid of needs: once basic, survival needs at the bottom of the pyramid are satisfied, you can move on to satisfying higher order, self-actualization needs closer to the top.

Feeling at home means having the capacity to choose your actions rather than being forced into them by your circumstances.


Image credit: TheBusyBrain

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>