Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What is value?

I wonder about myself sometimes.

Living in Africa, especially at a school with 800 kids, means your belongings are always growing legs. Usually it's food, sometimes it's coins, and every now and then it's something you kinda really wanted to keep and is hard to replace.

A few day ago the reading light for my Kindle "dissipated". I'm choosing to believe someone picked it up and misplaced it somewhere in the apartment, but I know this is wishful thinking. Someone stole it. What's strange is in light of everything else I've "lost" over the last almost two years, this is the one that pissed me off the most - I have no idea why.

I got this email from my brother this morning:
Hey fella, hope you are doing well. today I was driving to work and I heard a pop!! And lost power. After getting black towed I found out that it slipped the timing chain. Something that is typical i guess. Because of that it bent a cylinder and now it will cost about 3,000 to get her back on the road. My question for you is.... What do you want me to do with the black beauty?

My response was:
The BB is worth less than half the 3,000 to fix it, I'd go with the old standby of selling it for scraps. That or the old flaming cliff dive.

The thing is I had no emotion about my car. You know, that thing I'll actually need when I get back to the states in a few months, that thing I have no money to replace and no way to make money without it. Yeah, I was like "Oh well, I wonder who'll win game 5." I wouldn't have even thought about it past the minute or two it took to process and respond to the email had it not struck me as odd that I really didn't care about a freaking car, yet was ready to go on a Richard B. Riddick, death to all Necros and bug-like aliens, rampage though a school because some kid pocketed a glorified nightlight. I wonder about myself sometimes.

I wonder why I value the things I value. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with actual value or need, I question if it even has anything to do with the physical item itself. If a friend borrows 70,000 shillings, and I know he'll never pay it back, I'm like, "Whatever". Yet some kid with crappy shoes and almost no real belongings pockets 500 shillings and breaks for the door and I'm ready to throttle him. I'd like to say it's because little kids learning to steal is a curse that will destroy their relationships and eventually ostracize them from their community - this is probably some small part of it - but how that behavior effects me probably has a larger impact on my reaction.

Am I that selfish and shallow or is something else going on? Is it an identity thing? I have no idea.

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