Thursday, December 19, 2013

Will Miss #531 - being an observer (the good)

When I first came back to the U.S., I felt completely outside of the culture. When people around me spoke to me, I felt as if they were invading some invisible bubble of privacy that they should have detected and respected. I felt this way because, in Japan, I spent so many years being an outsider who was observing from a sense of separate space and a unique perspective that it felt odd to not be in that place anymore.

The truth was that being an observer granted me many things psychologically. It made me hyper-aware of my surroundings so that I sensed everything more acutely. It made me emotionally detached from what occurred in them such that I was much less rarely activated by things. It was insulating and made me feel protected. People were less likely to overhear my conversations and try to insinuate themselves into them. They were less likely to bother me at all.

After near one and a half years at home, I feel far too "integrated" with my surroundings. In some ways, this is good because I feel less alien in my home country, but in other ways, it is bad because I feel as though I'm sleep-walking and not heeding the details of life around me.

In many ways, I miss the benefits of being an observer in Japan. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting perspective on being an observer vs. being "active" in your surroundings. I had exactly the same perspective when I as a white male was the minority in two places; one in Japan, the other when I was in junior high school attending a rapid / gifted program at the local public school. I got to take high school classes at the public school which was basically almost 100% black. The only white students were from the gifted program. In a sense I felt acutely aware of my status and my being there that I as part of the majority white male didn't feel elsewhere. So it was interesting that even in the USA I could feel this way. You were able to articulate it much better than I could.

    Hopefully you can take the time to be an observer in various locations and beings to get back to that place once in a while.

    Take care!


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