I really am a man ever on a wub-finding mission.
I was walking with a friend to a shop near I-House tonight and, as usual with the people I live with, we fell to talking. He had had a tough week, but the most bothersome thing that was troubling him weren’t the big things, but the tiny things. Things like dropping off some paperwork at the office at school, being told that the person in charge of such matters wasn’t there, being asked to return, and, upon returning, finding that the person in charge of such matters still wasn’t there and the people who were present refused to take the damn paperwork for him anyway.
Tiny, tiny things. Tiny things that, in America, would just be handled in the most efficient way possible, if for no other reason.
That’s when it hit me. I had never realized that culture shock isn’t just limited to things like being cast out in the desert with the bedouins to look after you. It can arise from tiny things, like coming across an SUV with spinners on it, or spotting old ladies in the subway wearing honest-to-god kimono as they go about their business. Minor annoyances can be considered culture shock – are culture shock – and it wasn’t until today that I realized that.
When I first got here I sincerely expected to be crippled by technological advancements and girls in tiny, tiny skirts, and a myriad of other things besides. Instead the things that have gotten to me more than anything else are the drunks that roam the streets of Sakae, and the filth that will accumulate even at six AM on a Wednesday morning. Or the relative ease with which one can become a drunk roaming the filthy streets of Sakae at 6 AM on a Wednesday morning. Or almost getting run over at the same intersection a week apart. They’re all wubs. They’re all learning experiences.
And it’s the minor annoyances that are the most important.
I’ve recently been reminded about how important interpersonal relationships are, and how important it is not to leave stones unturned in those relationships. It doesn’t do to leave certain things unsaid or undone, especially if (perceived) time is running short.
A long time ago, I learned two things – what’s been said can’t be unsaid, and a closed mouth won’t get fed. The first is pretty self-explanatory, I think, but the second is something that I learned in my hometown; it basically means that you won’t get what you want if you don’t ask for it.
Sometimes we worry so much about preserving our mask of “normalcy” that we sacrifice that which would really make us happy, which to me is doing a grave injustice not only to ourselves but to those around us. We adhere so much to what is thought of as “normal” it becomes normal to the exclusion of any and all deviations from the standard, and human emotion simply doesn’t work that way.
People are, by nature, logical beings – at least where concrete matters are concerned. We can launch satellites, we can synthesize proteins from almost any organic source, we can read the histories of a myriad of great men, and many lesser ones besides. These are concrete things. But when it comes to interpersonal human interaction, a deceptively complex tangle of neurotransmitter activity and unconsciously-done protean signals and… I don’t know, the weather even – all these things come together in a dance of subtle and not-so-subtle messages that convey to a receptive party how the signaler feels about himself, the receptive party, and the environment around them both. All at once. On several different levels. Naturally, some of us are better at picking up on and responding to those signals in an appropriate manner than others.
In the process, anything resembling concrete gets defenestrated.
I haven’t always been the most successful person where emotional connections are concerned. Sure, I’m friendly and can make friends with the best of them. It’s something that I pride myself on – I’m just a nice guy. But those protean signals I mentioned earlier… I can spot them, but acting on them is an entirely different story. I’ve been in situations where I probably should have acted but didn’t, and I’ve been in a few where I acted and probably shouldn’t have.
It really is a slippery slope, people.
But in the long run, I’ve learned from those missteps. It’s made me into a more solid, self-assured person. And that’s all I ever want to be.
Imagine a place; white, bland. There’s nothing there, not even your body. But your conscious is tied to this blank of a place. No one else’s, just yours. And it’s working overtime to understand what the hell it’s doing there. It’s a really sad, confusing place. There are no walls, there’s no door; your mind can’t get out of this place, even though it might really want to leave it. Then, all at once, another enters it. You’re not alone anymore, but it’s still really scary there in that blank place because you don’t know how it got there, and you can’t understand why it’s there. But you don’t want it to leave because you’re drawn to it. It confounds you. It intrigues you. At the same time it makes the blank place a more bearable place to be. But still you hesitate because, though you’re afraid that it’ll leave you alone again, you’re not at all sure how it’ll respond if you attempt to interact with it.
What to do?
They say mind-reading is a crock of shit but if I could, I would. Just like the rest of us, I’m curious what others think of me. Feel about me. What they really see when they see me.
But I’m just waxing poetic here. Think of this only as the ramblings of a man deep in thought who’s found a wub, and take from it what you will.