Trying to Find a Balance

It’s not so much been a problem as it has been a point of interest. From the very beginning in Lebanon, I have been fixating on Minnesotan things.

It started with me listening exclusively to Bob Dylan and Atmosphere, and sometimes manifested itself in me exclaiming “Minnesota” whenever conversation turned to Keith Ellison or Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” came on at the bar. I told everyone about the bridge and explained how close my house at school was to it.

I would listen to A Prairie Home Companion on the plane flights, and have lately been shopping around online for I *Heart* MPLS and “612” shirts. (I particularly like these Norwegian ones). I just found that this business was founded and run by a former classmate of mine.

I nearly died when I saw a Cinnabon store in the City Stars Mall.

It’s very strange because I have been trying to find a balance between going completely Oriental and looking like a Hajji, and being a pseudo-tourist, taking my massive Camera everywhere with me and eating at McDonald’s.

It’s tough because I’m here for such an intermediate period of time. In a sense, it’s either a long vacation, or a short citizenship, I feel I have to either choose, or find a balance.

My hypothesis is that it doesn’t have much to do with homesickness, but more to do with some little “truth” everyone has been told since childhood that forces me to seize on these things from home. The truths, something like “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”, or maybe “in order to understand something, you have to look at it from without”, or something to that effect.

This reminds me of something that I wrote earlier this summer. I know it’s a little disjointed to put it in here, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. Excuse unfinished points and misspellings/punctuations, I wrote it all in a stream.:

I write these things with all sincerity and with a desire to express myself as organically as possible. I am sure of the purity of the ideas that I’m trying to explain, but the tragic limitations in the clarity of their explanation are mine.

At one point or another in my life, I have been told:
“Life is hard.”
“In order to understand something or someone, you must understand that thing in its own context.”
and
“You don’t truly appreciate something until it’s gone”

Statements like this have always resonated with me on some basic level. I understood them to mean certain things that were sane and pragmatic- and ultimately true. Now, however, I realize that my understanding of those (and evidently many other such statements) were rooted solely in faith masquerading as truth.

These sorts of things have all been said before- especially in the context of religion and the belief in god, but I’ve found, through practice, that faith can cut far simpler and smaller spheres of meaning.

It may be a sign that I’m growing up or getting old or something that I’m just now starting to experience these things. I am more frequently seizing their meaning through experience rather than anecdote. And it is through experience, I’ve found, that statements transform into truths. I draw parallels between these pseudo-revelations and the memorization of words in another language (both things I’ve been doing a lot lately). This analogy works for me in that one’s knowledge of these statements (as purported truths) are only notes on sheets of paper filed somewhere in the far corner of your brain- that is until you’re forced to take them out. Once you do use them, however, they becomes realities to your being. You’ll receive feedback, either positive or negative, and the impact of that moment, and of that feedback, in reality is difficult to erase.

I realize that this type of rhetoric, for young people (not a term tied to age) will naturally and unknowingly be taken in with the same type of faith that is used whenever a novel idea is thrown out at them. If it is pragmatic and sane it will be accepted- but not necessarily understood. For older people (again, nothing to do with age), I would guess that this sort of reflection on maturation will spark a memory from when they first experienced the same thing. I’d imagine those memories don’t fade very easily.

I knew by faith that removing myself from my natural environment would give me an unprecedented ability to realize things and to mature. The difference is now I know this by experience.

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Cal

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