Another confession, sometimes, when I was younger, I was told that I had my head in the clouds and this was supported by incidental facts. Once while driving on the scenic panoramic route on California's coastal highway 1, I was so captivated and excited by the view that I nearly drove off the cliff! Talk about entering the moment! Yesterday, I fell into a little hole, a broken place in the sidewalk, really, and I did not get injured.
When I moved to Puerto Rico, my department director patiently listened to my complaints about the rule breaking Puerto Rican population. I am a bit ashamed to admit to it now but it bothered me that people would park their cars everywhere and sometimes even block my car from leaving because of double parking. People would park on the sidewalks and if there was space enough, they would park in the middle lane between parking spaces; worse yet, after the first transgressor, cars would line up there, too, creating a middle lane behind the legally parked vehicles. My director patiently listened to my frustration and explanation about being late to class because I was trapped and say, "Yes, this is a small island." I was supposed to infer that people didn't have a choice but to break the rules. Since then, I've learned that these rule are flexible and subject to interpretation by the drivers. Basically, if you're willing to get a possible but rarely given ticket, it's acceptable to break the law because there is no where to legally park. After all, whose fault is it?
Yesterday, I fell in a hole and I realized my orientation had changed. I no longer took it for granted that people would do their duty and repair what is broken. I accepted that I needed to look out for myself in this life. I know I can't prevent every incident from occurring but I noticed that I have accepted responsibility for my own well being. Before I fell yesterday, I didn't even know that I expected others to look out for me or that I would nurse resentment about other people's shortcomings. I realized that thinking and focusing on someone's behavior (rather than my own) resulted in my victimization. It is only because of being so completely immersed in another culture that I can see my own cultural beliefs about how life is suppose to function. This statement about belief is not to say that everyone in my home culture would think exactly the way I do (or did that is.) Also, I am not saying that the Puerto Rican culture is a behavioral model to emulate. I am just saying that when you are pressured to think about what you take for granted, some valuable insight can be gained.
Now dear Blogger friends, here is Cher before all of her cosmetic improvements (-sorry Cher but it's okay to show your age a little bit) singing the romantic classic, What a Difference a Day Makes, which is the song I kept hearing while drafting this reflection. What does that lyric have to do with what I'm thinking about? Maybe my mind made the simple adjustment I'm recommending to you, just change the word "day" to "place" and I think we almost have a thematic fit. ;-)