Thursday, May 14, 2009

Culture Shock - with Odd Timing

My first week back was totally fine. I did all sorts of fun things, enjoyed myself and even though that maybe... miraculously... I had evaded culture shock?

Well, not quite. Week 2 (pretty much to the day), I started to feel quite miserable, out of sorts and out of place. All the normal things I do to make myself happy when I'm at home (yoga, writing, reading, cooking, eating, watching movies, listening to music) weren't working.  I still felt a vague restlessness and underlying anxiety. I didn't know what I wanted - just not this. 

I finally went to beach for some quiet time - no books, no music, no other people.

I walked, I ran, I did yoga, I swam in the ocean and the pool, did handstands, and sat on the beach... and I finally started to feel okay.

Nothing like the vastness of the ocean to make your problems seem small

I started to feel like I was at home - at least in myself if not my surroundings. 

A little Perspective:

I decided looking at the ocean, that I needed some perspective on things. Two ways I know how to do that are:
1) Get outside
2) Go to Wal-mart (let me explain)

When I go to Wal-mart, I invariably see many of the things I hate about this culture: overweight, unhappy looking people (often being mean/rude to their spouse/kids) all sorts of junk you don't need, and obnoxious leering men/boys. 

By going to Wal-mart, I am reminded to be grateful for all that I have (I don't have to work there, or shop there) all that I am (not those fat ladies smacking their kids around while they load cheez-its into the cart) and all the wonderful people I have in my life .
(If I'm really lucky, I even remember to have compassion for people who do shop there!)

Getting outside always works to make me feel better about life, so I went to a nearby state park with marshes and prairies, and was joined by gators, birds, foxes, raccoons, deer and bunnies. 

this little guy was prancing along until he saw me and got low!

Not Quite There Yet:

While it's getting better, it's not over yet

This morning I pulled out of the driveway and saw someone in the oncoming lane! I said out loud to myself "What the fuck is he doing?!" and my automatic reaction was to get further to the left of him - but there was no more road over there... 

I then realized that everyone else coming towards me was in that lane too, and swerved back over to the right...

After 2 weeks of safe driving, I thought this was odd timing, but I guess culture shock affects us in unpredictable ways.

Oh well, coming back - slowly but surely!


Steph Smith said...

As cool as you were when I knew you in college, I want to hang out with you even more now.

And go to a beach alone, after reading this.

Dave Thurston said...

Isn't it (ironically) great to have those cruddy feelings . . . but even while your having them to pull yourself up by the hair and *know* that "this is crud is great because it is so (well) crappy that I know in the not too distant future, I'll feel the opposite end of the spectrum."

(OK, crud still stinks. But it makes the good that much better.)

Dad said...

Wow... that wal-mart thing is brilliant. I really never thought of wal-mart as actually being USEFUL for anything...

Ali said...

Thanks Steph, I feel like we have even more in common now - I'm jealous of "Desserts and Dusk"

Dave, I very much agree (especially easy to see now that I'm back in the good!)

Dad - I know, eh?

Katy said...

Lord have mercy! we drive on the right here in america! a good way to remember this is that "USA is always right." just repeat that 3 times before you start your car.

all sarcasm aside i am so glad youre back because it will be easier to see you this summer.
I am glad youre feeling more at home with yourself. its interesting how obsolete your enviornment is compared to your internal orientation. its like a reverse maslows pyramid where you have to acheive self actualization first as a foundation and then move on to more external influences like interactions and environment. hm? that is a new theory what do you think? call me soon! love you!