A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.
I spent the weekend visiting and catching up with a friend from home. Leanne is a native Australian whose intention to stay in the US for a year resulted after six in her gleeful departure from the sinking ship where we worked to the comforts of the land she’d left. Glad to have a friend from the US visiting, and possibly more so given that I was really taking the time to explore and appreciate her country, she offered me things I couldn’t refuse (nor would I want to). Free accommodation for a few nights. A hot shower, a comfortable bed, privacy, internet access, laundry facilities, breakfast included – all things you end up paying for at the hostels – again free. She took me to dinner, and to grab fish and chips. She offered me copious amounts of delicious tea.
I don’t know exactly where to attribute all of the generosity. Is it because we are friends from the States? Is it because of who she is? Is it something I can generalize to Australians as a whole? Those are the fun questions that I never seem to be able to answer. And the answer really isn’t as critical as the fact that it is the case.
And so I spent a few hours online checking up on things like my finances that I hadn’t been able to deal with since I had arrived and been relegated to public networks. I was able to upload photos at a rate better than one a minute. And I could take joy in the relative quiet of the suburbs – birds calling, trees swaying in the breeze, the cuckoo clock chiming every 15 minutes – rather than the constant overwhelming cries of the city and 7 roommates.
And for all of this I am grateful. And since it was the first time in several weeks of travel and new experiences that I was in a comfortable place and didn’t have to be “on,” I sunk into the comforts of home. I soaked in the connectivity, I opened 50 tabs of concert listings and camera buying advice and Facebook updates. And I let my guard down since I didn’t need it up and let the frustrations wash over me and the disappointments of missed opportunities hit me. I sunk into it.
Back in the city now, seeing the sights and feeling the life force of perpetual motion starting to soak back in through my skin, I look back on the weekend and realize that I can be a pretty distant and underwhelming guest. I thanked her several times, but I didn’t show it necessarily. I provided conversation for periods, but then was absorbed back into the net. I met her brother and one sister and hope that I did a good job of making a positive impression, but I was so drained from the travels that I have no idea if I came across remotely well.
So I’m learning the difficulties of finding comfort. A place where you can unwind is a place where you aren’t cued up. A place you can relax is a place you aren’t ready to perform. A place of comfort is not one where you inherently try to impress. And when you find that place in the absence of others or you are paying for it, you do what you want and need. But when that place is provided for you, there is a balance between indulgence and playing your part to keep that door open. It is an area I’m going to need to work on.