I look down at the list of restaurants, what do I want? I have been craving ‘English’ food but now it is in front of me, what do I want? The abundance of choices, the plethora of possibilities. What is it that I really want?
How do we know what we want, what we like, where to go, who to be? How to tune in to that base desire, what do I really want?
This question has been spinning around my brain since my return visit to the UK. After months of dreaming of fish and chips, cheddar cheese, pints of beer and spicy curries I can’t decide what to have. Ever.
After months of longing to see friends and family, I can’t work out who to see and when. What do I want? Am I making a new life in another place or am I waiting to come back?
How to find that core part of ourselves? How do we work out what we want? Layers of expectations, social niceties, obligations and responsibilities can obscure that internal primal desire.
I consider myself a selfish person; I’m single and childless. In the main, I do what I like, I’m inconsiderate and unreliable, I rarely have to question, what do they want? Another person’s choices don’t usually have to affect mine. But still I struggle to know what I really really want (thanks Spice Girls!).
Is choice ever imposed from outside? People can crumble under the pressure of expectations, make a bad decision, make the wrong choice. or are we always in control of our choices? Are we sometimes afraid to admit what we really want? I try not to judge the choices, be whomever you choose; a parent, a husband, an artist, a lazy fat TV addict, be whatever you like, just be happy. Or sometimes, are people doing what they want but hide under the pretence of obligation? Why shouldn’t you do what makes you happy? Celebrate it when you know what you want, enjoy it!
Do we have too much choice? I have been trying to work out why my pupils in Brazil value education so much more highly than my UK pupils. At first I thought it might be because they pay for it but I don’t think these rich Brazilian children are totally aware of how much it costs. Also the staff and pupils in the rural free school I visited, value it as highly, if not higher. Despite my absolute belief in a free and equitable education system I can’t help but feel that, in Brazil, education is valued as it is so hard come by. For my pupils in England education was such an intrinsic given right it had ceased to be valued.
As an aside I also think that the relentlessly negative statements about teachers, teaching and education by politicians and the media are also systematically destroying the value we place on our system. The rest of the world values the UK education system; I can see the fantastic grounding it has given me as I share my knowledge in Brazil. Why is it so difficult for us to appreciate what is on our own doorstep?
Now that I am back amongst the familiar, all those things I thought I wanted don’t taste the same. It was the comfort and safety of the known that I chased. The flavours of home have served to remind me that I moved on for a reason. Maybe I had already eaten too much cheddar cheese in my life; maybe it was time for something new?
Do we have too much choice? Do we ever know what we really want? The tyranny of choice can leave us unable to really choose. Constantly dissatisfied, frustrated, looking over our shoulders at what ‘they’ have got instead of trying to get what we want. The bindings of expectations confuse us as to our real desires.
And me, what do I want? I don’t suppose I will ever really know for certain. Instead I will make the journey to discover what I want and take pleasure from the adventures on the way.
Today, I want a roast dinner.