Terrible, Interesting, or Just Loud?

I saw Indiana Jones. It was so-so.

I didn't like the CGI gophers and monkeys.

The director also refused to do any close-ups to reveal an aging star.

The film seemed like it was really far away the whole time.

After the movie, I spoke to my family in Iran on Skype for the first time in my life. That was fun. My cousins seemed very funny. They asked me if I liked Korean food. I told them it was horrible. Then thought this was very funny. I wasn't sure as to why at the time. I figured It must have been the way I said it - my honesty.

That's one thing I've noticed about both the Persian and Korean cultures - people don't really say what they mean, or if they do, it's with a certain amount of reserve that would favor propriety over the truth. That's probably why I finally understand what my parents meant when they constantly reminded me to "respect" them all through my childhood. They were really asking me to behave in a fashion that was appropriate for their cultural perspective.

If I look back at my behavioral reactions in childhood and young adulthood, I can sincerely say that my excessively, honest responses - or better yet, emphatic deliveries of natural integrity - were a result of individual sensitivity over any group ideal. Irreverence was not even a consideration in my innocent, gut-reactions. I loved and respected my parents deeply. I was simply incapable of offering manufactured gestures for the sake of social standing or what was deemed appropriate from a cultural standpoint which I didn't share or possess in the first place.

It is interesting how slight cultural shifts - Persian to American or Korean to American - could make a person naturally at odds with the expectations of those around them. I guess I was- and still am - a Harley Davidson next to a bunch of scooters. I would like to just put along and purr the way they do, but my tendency to shout "Terrible!" or "No!" when I was opposed to something, rather than swallowing my truth for an approval-seeking-hum like "Interesting" or "I'll think about it" are simply not the first emotional reactions available to me.

I wonder if people realize this perspective if they remain their entire lives in one place. If I had only lived in America, I doubt I would be able to understand how radically different I was from my first generation immigrant parents. The fact that their ideas of propriety were based on a system that I had no experience living, while their reciprocal understanding of an American sense of values was equally hampered by their slow assimilation, probably created a series of misunderstandings and ill communicados that produced much of the disharmony between us.

To this day, I still see my siblings operating under an American value system of expectation, and pinning my parents as scapegoats, when the true culprit in their altercations is perspective and a lifetime of multicultural understandings that would leave any person in a perpetual state of culture shock. Truth be told, neither party is to blame for the see-saw effects of moving from one viewfinder to another. In fact, if this conversation remained on cultural-shifting perspectives alone, we would seriously misalign ourselves with the obvious understanding that we are all individuals with distinct minds and frames of reference.

We all experience a series of "bad vibes" when we move from one social scenario and its respective, behavioral decorum to another. The artist in academia, the foreigner, the stranger, the unknown - all these parameters are unified in the face of difference or "other" when we seek to acknowledge the "otherness" which we feel in people or ourselves. In contrast, one could equally capitalize on the "sameness" of our species, but this would also fall short of being outside the borders of true integrity. Therefore, the only hopes one would have of inhabiting an honest or natural state would be to exclude society's expectations and judgments from our thinking.

Is this even possible? Why should one even seek to attain such a position? Couldn't we simply note that there are differences in each human being and try to remain open to the fact that we all think and see the world differently?

I will talk more about this later. Now I am thinking of living in Iran for a year.

No comments: