Archive for June 6th, 2011
Heading north from DaNang, Vietnam which is seen here from a scenic rest stop partway up the mountain road that leads to what used to be called North Vietnam, I stopped to take a few photos to mark the occasion, tourist photos for the most part. The light conditions weren’t the greatest for good photos but that rarely stops me from capturing scenes such as this one. For me, this lack of clarity is an important statement with regards to taking a journey, especially into what one consciously considers to be the unknown, new territory. I was travelling through Vietnam, new territory and as a result had suspended judgement about what to expect, an attitude that lets me see things that would otherwise be missed.
I think that this travelling and living in a place where one is an outsider is actually helpful for me. I can’t make too many assumptions about the others I see around me or myself in relation to these others. There is enough foreignness on both sides that clearly differentiates self from other.
When back in my home territory the differentiation is not so evident. I do sense my differences as do those around me. But habit and expectations and a lack of confidence catches me and I slip back into the older patterns of behaving and relating as though in a straight jacket. The collective has a power over me that is hard to dispel because of familiarity, fear and inertia. In a new collective, culture, community there are no patterns, no real expectations that the self has for others or that others have of oneself. No wonder I find a release in being elsewhere.
Returning to the community, it is almost a step back in time and in feeling. After having left, the return is warm but at the same time, it is guarded. By leaving, one has in a small way rejected the community. In spite of the warmth of the “welcome back” an unconscious distance and separation is erected. The community needs assuring, needs proof that the returnee still belongs, is still one of them. And so, in an effort to appease, it is necessary to deny the changes and work hard to prove that one is still part of the community. As I learned, the last thing anyone wants to hear is a new idea that might contradict the locally approved view of the world.