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A Blog About Culture

Recognition, Situation, Identity, Reality

I recently went to a going away dinner for a friend of mine who is moving to another city. She is a friend-of-a-friend, so the dinner attendees were quite mixed. I’m close friends with maybe five of them, but the fifteen-odd others seated at the table were unknown to me. Besides Facebook pictures.  We were at a crowded Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., taking up three tables that had been pushed together to form a long row. I happened to be closest to the host as he showed us in, so I took the first seat on the end, assuming that my friends would sit with me. It didn’t end up that way.

I was in the corner on the complete opposite end of the table from where the rest of my friends were. I looked across from me: strangers, a couple. I looked next to me: strangers! No one I knew was even in talking distance from me.

Here’s a situation in which I could have sat back, analyzed dynamics, absorbed the conversations of the new people I found before me. I guess I also could have moved seats, but I supposed it would have been rude. Instead, I decided to forego my natural personality and instead jump right in and talk to those strangers like I knew them.

I accepted that I was in a situation that I considered flawed — or at least, “less than ideal” — but decided to ignore the nagging feeling and just did it anyway.

I think that’s another reason why I write the “That’s Life” entries on this blog. I know sometimes I’m being a consumer, a sheep, or a mindless product of some acculturation or other. (Why do you think we stand in lines, for heaven’s sake?) We might recognize that, no, it’s not what we’d necessarily choose for ourselves, but a. it’s the real world, b. we’re living in it, and c. baby steps are better than biting off more than we can chew.

So sometimes I stand in line for an empty bar at 1:15 am, recognizing that it’s definitely not my privilege to get to spend my money on detrimental habits inside, but I do it anyway. Just do it.

That’s culture. That’s life. Recognize first. Then understand. Then control. Maybe.

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