I flippantly discarded “first world” privilege to live in a different country. With only a destination I bought a one-way ticket seeking a sense of direction. Unemployed, friendless and without any real experience of the hopelessly practical, outside world I was leaving a small, small family far behind.
I didn’t have to do this. I was spoiled, but that’s not important. Being spoiled isn’t a bad thing. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t learning anything. I was always thinking about…myself. More poignantly I was thinking in terms of “us and them”. Life was boring.
Being a white person living in Japan for nearly 5 years I’ve heard questions like…. what is it like to look around and see only Asian people?…. I look around and see only people. I don’t really look around at all. I’m busy. I have a steady routine and a job keeping me tired and satisfyingly worn out. I see my students each and every week and once in awhile I tell them…you look Canadian. They are dumbfounded. They think I’m silly. But its true, they could very well be Canadian. Life is seamless. No stitches hold us together. I can only tell the difference between others and myself when my ego is challenged.
A label has two sides, front and back. A foreigner means simply “us and them” I don’t have to choose. Life isn’t romantic or sentimental each and every moment. Melon collie seems to last forever when its there. Life is gray, blue, and rouge, white and weird, not only black and white. Tell me a story that isn’t mine. Behave in a manner I can’t recognize. It’s all about to happen when we least expect it. Isn’t that truth?
I’m much kinder and generous for the wear and tear of my life. Indifference was a clever thing once I finally recognized it. I learn to speak less but say more. Especially looking around and seeing only yellow people, wink, wink. The more I see the less I know…blah blah blah. I know, I’m not answering any questions here (not that anyone has asked me) and I still love more than ever being vague and cryptic.
Ten years ago, when I first left my now growing family I thought the discovery of noticing the similarities rather than the differences was profound. When I was a “provincial” person I inhabited circles using the differences of things. At an arms length, I discovered the similarities as a outsider or a “worldly” person. Now, this discovery has become nostalgic to me. I still notice the similarities much more than the differences, but I revel in the differences. We all want to be different.