Archive | January, 2015

Are we merely the product of where we live?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, especially when contemplating where to move outside of New York and observing the different subcultures I’ve come across in my travels.  While growing up on Long Island, my introverted nature turned me into something of a recluse, too proud of my individualism to run with the herd and participate in the myriad of strange cliques that surrounded me.  I was always the fish who swam the other way.

It made me wonder though: was I really such an anomaly, or were there others like me who only behaved the way they did, not because they were being true to themselves, but so they could fit in and not risk being alone?

When I traveled, in all the places I visited it seemed like everyone was like everyone else.  In places like Seattle, everyone was a hippie and a liberal.  In the Bible Belt, everyone was a conservative, church going Christian.  So if I wanted to be with people that were like me, it would just be a matter of going where they were, and I’d be happy right?

But I started getting uncomfortable with the thought that people only evolved to become who they were not out of individual choice, but because that was the culture they grew up in.  If you were born and raised in Utah, you likely became Mormon.  If you were born and raised in California, you likely became a surfer dude.  If you were born and raised in Wyoming, you became a cowboy (or at the very least, not a city slicker.)

So that’s it? We’re nothing more than the environment we wind up living in?  What if my parents had been Muslims instead of Christians, would I have grown up to be a Muslim too?  Are the convictions I hold in life really based on the choices I make, or did I simply inherit them?

That’s when I started to realize what was bothering me about some of the places I’ve visited, particularly the south.  Despite people who had the same political leanings and Christian beliefs I did, something was off.  And it occurred to me that despite the appearances of camaraderie, I still had nothing in common with them, because their livelihoods and Christianity were not borne out of conviction, but out of social expediency.  Their culture was steeped in conservative, Baptist tradition, and yet the Bible Belt culture did very little to change the true nature of man.  That’s why there was the paradox of encountering people who quote Bible verses while, for example, cooking meth.  It was part of the culture they grew up in, but it didn’t change who they were. They were just schools of fish, swimming the same way.  The monolithic culture was a facade.

That’s why I tend to regard people who “profess” the name of Christ with a heavy degree of suspicion.  Do they really believe that, or was that simply how they were brought up?  It’s easier to believe one is a Christian living in an Islamic country than if they were living in Alabama, because despite the enormous collective pressure to be Muslim, they rebuffed it, often at the risk of their very lives.  They didn’t go along to get along, they specifically chose a different path.  Those are the kind of people I think I have the most in common with, the ones who are true to themselves.

Being a true individual I think carries with it the burden of being a stranger in a strange land, and if my goal was to move only to find people who were like-minded as me, I would never be happy.  Instead, I find contentment in accepting who I am, and that I will always be the square peg who can never fit in with the circle of the world.  Once I learned to accept that, I realized my happiness doesn’t have to rely on being surrounded by people who shared the same convictions and beliefs I did.

Here’s my first post of 2015, just to get it out of the way

Honestly, I really didn’t want to kick things off here airing grievances about what happened to me in 2014, which is what I was tempted to do.  It just feels like a bad way to start a brand new year full of hope and possibilities.

I’ll save that for my next post.

Anyhoo, because work has been sapping all my energy and strength lately, I can’t come up with anything insightful other than to say that 2015 also caps my 2 year blog anniversary for A Geek in the Wilderness.

2 years already, can ya believe it?  Out of all the blogs I’ve started in the past, this is probably my favorite and totes a keeper, even if I do barely write on it.  I’ve had more content gone viral here than with anything else I’ve published in the past, and the technology has finally caught up where I can enjoy seamless integration with Instagram and other social media channels too.  Snap a pic on my iPhone and BOOM, shows up on my blog automagically with some sprinkles and sunshine tossed in.

As this new year in blogging takes off, January seems to have morphed into one long, endless Groundhog Day, while I await decisions at my new job that will finally determine how soon I can leave NY, or if I even leave it at all.  One final piece of the puzzle that needs to fall into place, so of course it also happens to be the piece that decides to disappear off into the Bahamas on an extended vacation on which it may never return.

Of course.  Of course.

I’m being hyperbolic, (I hope), but still, it looks like people are right when they say the hardest part of the wait is when you’re in the final hour.  Then suddenly, it’s like time completely freezes and I’m stuck in a permanent holding pattern.  Ugh.

But if not today, then perhaps tomorrow.  And if not then, then the tomorrow after.  Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow….

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