Finding Common Ground
Fitting into the local mold can take many strange forms. For example, what would you do when your daily commute is at breathing level with all of the Lexus SUV exhaust pipes? Do you comply with the request to remove your shoes when entering sacred ground, or someones home? These are the situations we find ourselves in, ultimately leading us to wear surgical masks, walk barefoot or don trendy ponchos. But what feels innately uncomfortable may be what makes us most fit in.
In the United States, we find ourselves feeling ill at ease if there is a prolonged silence amid conversation, mentally racing to figure out what to say without the appearance of blinking an eye. But in many cultures, especially those that are community oriented, silence is just as much a part of the conversation as any spoken words. Finding myself in a country where people speak a vastly different language than my own, I am more and more finding the need to be comfortable within silence. Eating lunch with the security guard of my office, enjoying the sunshine, hearing the distant voice of the radio, sharing pieces of fruit… no language needs to be exchange. The occasional smile is enough to remind anyone you are with that, although we do not understand one another, everything is ok.