Friday, June 24, 2011

these foolish things, remind me of you.

Hello from Germany. Listening to jazz, staring at the leaves swaying left and right and trying to finish my report for real.

I am currently in the process of many half baked thoughts, though unable to see any to fruition. I like the chinese word for distraction, split heart... since I feel very much like that. My heart is in a million places, hence perhaps causing my head to be as well. It's hard to get clarity in the things i am doing... Writing on my blog will perhaps keep me accountable, by reclaiming some brain space with bringing some thoughts to fruition.

this week i had the opportunity to play host to my little cousin and her friends. I included my frog in this hosting escapade and I must say he scored for being an entertaining European. I told him that after backpacking around, they might be interested in meeting someone "local" and he could play that role.. We were having this discussion when he chanced upon a grilling pan and wanted to buy it.. Seizing this opportunity, I said that perhaps we could inaugurate the pan by grilling some sausages for them...  He must have either bought the idea or decided that saying no would be too much drama, in any case, he was presented as our chef for the day...

Frog was quite a hit and he made them laugh ever so often... during the course of the week, it was interesting to note the dynamics all around. I was quite fascinated at how they could get along and that both parties had fun. He was quite happy to share all things European, and once in a while say something funny to solicit a laughter or 2. They were quite happy to play card games with him and do more girly stuff. After the first night of sausages, the girls cooked for us for a few more nights and him being around made the dinner more "balanced". They were happy for him to try the food and receive praises here and there.

In being the "older" cousin, I related to my cousin (and by extension her friends) like she was my little sister, though they are not little anymore. I took the role of making sure they ate, knew where things were in the apartment and making sure they were safe. haha. Definitely not the entertaining cool European that frog was. Definitely not the sweet young thing.

I think that I am reaching an age where I need to transition gracefully from being a "sweet young thing" into something else. With the first signs of not having the perfect memory, little wrinkles around the eye and the "love handles" that are harder to ward off (people telling me i have put on weight is not cool when i am not Yang Gui Fei). From wanting to be older and seen to be more matured, I can finally understand why women spend large amounts of their money in beauty products, why botox, liposuction and other beauty enhancing stuff is such a lucrative business.

I don't consider myself particularly super vain (besides taking part in a certain contest!) and have always wanted to be seen to have more of a heart/mind than be judged by my looks. But now that this alleged looks is fading, I find myself being scared, and wondering what the right response should be.

It is a scary transition that I think needs a "strategy" and be "managed" before it goes out of control. I don't intend to spend all the money I don't have on creams, neither do I plan to obsess about beauty. But I am acknowledging that this is something that have been in and out of my mind...

How do I cultivate the gentle and quiet spirit that is of great worth in God's sight (1 Peter 3:4-5 I think.. was a camp verse when I was in secondary school)

I think that it is key to remember that I am a child of God, nthg can separate his love from me. And to hold it very close to my heart. This week, I was painfully insecure with what I was doing, not sure that the person I was doing the report for was happy with my work, whether I was interpreting what the theologians were saying well and if I was able to write ok. I even fought my frog because he did not say the right reassuring words and so it equated to " you don't love"(yes, I am the silly one) but my point is, it is so easy to go downhill and I am reminded that because I am God's child, I do not need to freak out. While feelings are real and will plague me, the knowledge that He is mine, and He has it sorted out needs to transcend these feelings and be seen in my action.

I am also thinking about the "pure spiritual milk" that I am supposed to crave. I am trying to fight the change of crazy amount of activity in Asia to suddenly facing myself the whole day. I dunno wat to do with myself! It is so hard to establish a routine and to abide to it. I need to be intentional to have God in this mix when I am lonely, ill discipline or just feel like doing nothing. Somedays, I feel like Germany is like Singapore in that it is more difficult to live out my faith in these developed worlds. Yesterday was a Public Holiday for some catholic church festival but the number of individuals who observe such festivals is nominal. With the comfy life of the west, it is difficult to remember and to openly attribute success to God without sounding pretentious, or sounding ashamed for being "uncool".

Ok, time to go back to the report. I pray that as I embark in this season of life, I will be able to do it with his strength, and faith to remember that He has gone before me!!! :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

living in between cultures...

Hofstede says that studying culture without feeling culture shock, is like swimming without water. This feels a bit like a SAT type of question... My immediate thought to this quote was wat would happen if I am living AND studying culture... and what does this feel like? I think that studying has helped me to put into perspective the living that I do...

Literature has it that Culture is a way that we make sense of the world, where at its core, there r shared assumptions shared by individuals in the same culture. example " family is important, money is necessary for life,  we need to constantly fight for our survival, ie we have no other choice..." This shared assumptions in my mind results in basic expectations that people r supposed to live out... such as, spend your free available with family... I am currently thinking that when we cross culturally, we question the basic assumptions and expectations and reach a place of perfect storm. What someone else takes for granted, is now considered and needs to be negotiated.  If the negotiations takes place well, yay to all. if not... I think this might result in people fiercely holding on to what their way is and not accepting anything of the other party.

... coupled to these culture wide expectations are personality differences in priorities and preferences.... All this makes it even harder to work together, live together or play together... What is happiness for a couple? What should be provided in a Job Description? What does it mean to be Christian? What does it mean to be friends?.......

I think my studying makes me question things more critically and the literature around provide me a framework to think through my thoughts. i think that maybe with all these differences that I am faced with, I am finally comfortable to think that its ok to be different, as well as wonder about the principles that should guide my thinking around differences that I personally and culturally do not accept.

Ok, maybe sleep a little before facing the world again. I am thankful to God for his blessings here around home. (ard = Asia) In a hallmark card, this will read, thank you Lord for your handprints all over.

humbled and willing to continue trying...