The 14-Year Conundrum
My wife and I have been married for fourteen years. During that time we have periodically talked about moving to live in Canada (my wish) with varying degrees of seriousness (but never too seriously). My wife has been resisting the idea for the duration of our marriage for three reasons: 1) her desire to stay near her parents so long as they are alive; 2) her desire to finish paying 25-years into the Japanese pension scheme so that she can receive a pension (or, be eligible to receive one); and, 3) her fear over the uncertainty of it all. The fact that we have two children in school in Japan complicates things, but does not make a move to Canadaimpossible so far as I am concerned. And I often feel that she uses the children as a weapon in her arguments against the idea.
A typical exchange on the topic starts like this:
“We could move to Canada.”
“No job! Yada!”
“Well, I could find a job.”
“Yada!”(I hate it!) “Find a job first.”
“That’s not how it works. To find a job in Canada I have to be in Canada.”
And so on, like that. It’s like arguing with a child, or listening to the childish nonsense of one of my 8-year-old students.
I have been saying to Junko for 14-years that in order to find a job in Canada I need to be in Canada. But she just doesn’t get it, and for 14-years the crux of her argument has been a resistance to the idea of me being unemployed upon arrival. I worry about it, too, but not too much. I have always felt confident that I could find something to do. If not teaching, then some kind of self-employment. Maybe corporate employment. There is no paucity of possibilities. Instead, endless possibilities are all that I see. The thing is that I see my life and my future as mostly my own creation and largely under my control, while Asians are more likely to see life the completely opposite way: we don’t make our lives so much as we suffer our fate. Asian cultures have traditionally made a very adhesive social philosophy and political economy out of the ideas of passively enduring Fate. It’s the Western individual thing versus the Asian corporate thing. Junko doesn’t see a future for either of us separated from the support of
some organization or group - in this case, an employer. I have always assured her, “Don’t worry. I’ll find a job.” But she is completely deaf to it.