“What I know for sure is less and less”

Perspectives change and sometimes they change relatively fast.

When I was nine, our teacher made us write a letter to our future 29 years old self. I don’t remember everything I’ve written in that letter, but I do remember some of the assumptions I’ve made back then related to how my life will look like when I get 29.

I would be married to a lawyer, I would have 4 kids: two boys (named Victor and David) and two girls (one of them named Lisandra, I don’t remember the other one’s name), I would be living in the States, I would have a PhD in Economics.

Explanation: my parents were prepared for a boy when I arrived – the name they had agreed on was Victor. There was no agreement for a girl’s name. My mom wanted to name me Lisandra, but since she had already chosen my sister’s name, she compromised. Irina was my dad’s choice. We got this assignment around the time my mom had just gotten back from the States. She was there on a scholarship due to the PhD in Economics that she had just finished in Romania. The programme she took part in consisted of economists and lawyers alike. We saw many pictures, mostly from Texas, and listened to many stories. It seemed to us it was a totally different world compared to the struggling Romania back then. I remember reading a fax my mom sent back home after having spent a few days in the States. The traffic lights for pedestrians wouldn’t change to green and how did Americans flush the toilets? Romania had just gotten out of the communist system, and my mom had never been abroad. There were no concepts like pressing buttons to change the traffic light to green or wave your hand next to a sensor to flush the toilet at that time in Romania. Everything seemed amazing for the 9 years old me. And I knew for sure so many things! Of course a lawyer would make a good husband, the States would be the perfect place to live in, 4 is a good number, having a PhD in Economics would open many doors.

I’ve just turned 29 a few weeks ago, so…what happened during the 20 years since I wrote the letter? How did I end up in Africa doing volunteering work? Why did I not do that PhD in Economics? Why did I quit my job as an economist? Why is the States on the bottom of my list of places to go to? Why don’t I want to get married? Why do I have no kids?

Perspectives change…at 9, I thought I had my entire life figured out. I thought I knew it all, I could see the road, I could see the purpose, I could see the bigger picture. Until it got foggy all of a sudden and I felt that I was running in the wrong direction. I just stopped “knowing” and started “feeling”. Discovery mood kicked in, I could hear my intuition, but could not explain it.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Especially during the past week, a lot has happened. I’ve been saying and doing many contradictory things, I’ve been annoyed with myself, trying to control the uncontrollable, jumping in the water and running back at the shore after a few minutes, taking five steps forward and seven steps back, trying to constantly figure it all out in my head.

Today, like any other day, I got an e-mail with the daily poem from Writer’s Almanac – “What I know” by Lee Robinson. All of these and much more are so beautifully expressed in just a few verses. Poetry is simply beautiful!

It somehow seems to make more sense now…all the contradictions are just because what I know for sure is less and less.

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