I love people* watching. One of my fave things to do is to sit in a café , preferably with a window, and to gaze out into the world.
*Dogs and other animals also count of course, as they are my people.
I write a lot. Mainly about people. All kinds of people. I try to guess their story.
Their history written in the threads of their clothes and codes.
The lines on their face.
The lilt of their language.
The gait of their walk.
I´m fascinated when I do this, and it keeps me curious for hours. It´s a form of meditation i´m sure, because when I take that moment to observe- observe without judgement but rather with wonder- I remember.
I remember compassion.
That we´re each just trying to get along in life. Doing our best to cope with what whatever we have going on. The horrors of our pasts. The worries for our futures.
I remember when i´m watching that we´re all humans just doing the best we can in that moment. That´s not to say what we do is always nice or always bad, but rather, i´m reminded to consider when you know better you do better (thanks Queen Maya).
Sometimes, you might get caught up in a story. It might be about others and what/who we think they are. The story could be about ourselves. We might feel attached to that story. A result of it. But we have the capacity just like our cells, to regenerate, to become a new version, a different version, if we like.
Often, we might feel others projecting these stories onto us. But it´s worth reminding ourselves that it´s ok, it doesn´t define us.
It´s been a period of learning and listening and learning to listen.
I´m repeatedly asking myself:
What keeps us in our cliques and labels and subcultures?
Do we ever try to see something from a different perspective?
Get into a different environment?
Speak to someone we don´t know?
Question what messages we´re being bombarded with?
These are questions i´ve always asked myself. Aint nothing new.
As I watch the heart wrenching news timelines, I find it difficult to pull back. To detach myself. Because I see myself in so many of those stories. I feel the pain and loss physically, and in many ways, I wish I didn´t.
I realise that it has helped “growing up mixed”, moving countries, constantly being questioned and challenged about my place. Where I fit. Mostly hearing that, well, I just don´t.
It´s meant that choosing certain things, especially "things" in popular* culture, just hasn´t been an option, whether the root was in being able to participate or just not having the commonality to associate with those things.
*read: Dirty Dancing/The Beatles/Rolling Stones / Findus crispy pancakes / Frasier/ Seinfeld
The assumption is that naturally, i´d want that. To belong. But I don´t. That is, I don´t seek the validation from those who want me to fit into their limited perspective where no other focus is allowed to co-exist. I´m more concerned with a more profound sense of belonging that resides in us all. That is spacious enough for us all to have the freedom to adjust our own lens, without the need or assumption that being vanlig is correct and therefore “we should always seek to be vanlig”.
This isn´t a note of craving or loss, judgement or expectation, rather, some thoughts i´ve chewed over with friends who each relate to the feeling of Otherness. Observing the world you inhabit from a place that is looking in. Periphery.
The leftover residue of this experience doesn´t heed a painful lament, but instead an appreciation for being shown what it is to exist with feet in various different worlds. From this wider perspective of being able to inhabit different spaces, I think there´s more of a chance that you are able to have a wider perception of the world. Possibly with a more sensitive lens.
I know this was meant with kindness despite the archaic language, (and to be honest, I was always more keen to hear this comment as opposed to the usual namecallings of “nigger” or “paki” or “white girl” or “Red” or “Buddha” etc.) and in some ways i started to relate to this statement (aside from the implied meaning that “half” means you are equally split from two as opposed to a multi-faceted and rich mix of backgrounds).
The best and worst.
Not really having a world that´s fully your own.
…But that´s not true. It´s taken me years to finally get there: The contortion to try to “fit” into the dominant view. To tame your hair, or voice, or clothes to "pass" without causing too much discomfort. Those years suppressing my Other voice so folks might feel more comfortable has lead me to having no choice in speaking up to share parts of my own story, especially to those who might not have the same perspective….but also to connect with so many who relate to that experience in their own way.
This experience of being Other has taught me another world view. Appreciating the Other world view, and the value of that.
Being Other has also taught me that whatever our background, there´s always more than one perspective. We´re all capable of choosing our own, and responsible for stepping out of what we know and trying to broaden our perspective and understanding and acceptance. I hope i´m always learning and growing and being more compassionate to widen my lens.