I’ve been intrigued recently by the balance between homeostasis and extremes across many elements of life and paradigms in a new culture and environment. This post draws from my own experience and from observations of all family members, and is about going (or trying not to go) from zero to manic way too superfast.
There is a fine balance between…
Maintaining a low enough level of physical activity to not perspire Vs. drenched shirt sweaty hot stickiness. Zero to flooded in a matter of a couple of nails pounded or just a few seconds in direct sunlight.
Keeping calm and carrying on through the heat and dirty and tired Vs. blow-your-top eruption of “I’ve had it up to here and so help me I will not take another minute of this…”; not directed at anything or anybody in particular. Zero to boiling in a matter of a few fruit flies or the thousandth bounce over a pothole today.
Appreciating, adapting to, and adopting the beautiful and good of a new culture Vs. going full-on native, toss out all wisdom of prior experience, “If it works for ‘them’ it works for me”, swallow it whole, no-filter abandon. Zero to “How did I get white skin? I thought I was Liberian!” in a matter of, say, a crush or two 🙂
Looking forward to feeling refreshingly cooled by a bucket bath with well water Vs. Dreading feeling chilled to the bone by the first cup of a bucket bath with well water
“I’m getting the hang of village life; this is working out well enough for our family in the bush.” Vs.”Why are we even here?! There is no way this can work out for another seven months. We’ll all be dead, guaranteed.”
Knowing how and when to do favors Vs. Setting up unrealistic expectations of future service (e.g. driving 10km to the main road in the truck and picking pedestrians up on the way who are asking for a ride, which adds time, liability, wear and tear, and opens the door for additional criticism and not meeting heightened expectations). From “We were totally fine before you came along” zero to “There is no way we can function now without you” in a matter of a kind gesture or two.
Comfortably sharing living space with critters, spiders, and bugs Vs. Freaking out on the unlucky guy with 6 legs who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Zero to territorial silverback in a matter of one brown recluse bite.
Playing nice to get along with police officers who stop me on the road because they smell money Vs. Becoming quasi-militant and creating a public scene by calling out the cop for corruption and extortion, refusing to “cooperate” or “put myself together” and generally not playing nicely with others. Zero to nearly arrested in a matter of just three measly pull-overs in one day.
Fighting to retain the optimism of Rousseau Vs. Surrendering to the skepticism of Hobbes. To trust but verify, or to verify then trust? To be taken advantage of because of generosity, or to hedge against deceit by withholding as a rule? From Rousseau zero to Hobbes in a matter of one or two construction projects.
Time and energy spent caring for self while still maintaining selflessness Vs. Putting one’s needs before the needs of others needlessly. Where is the balance between investing in myself by allowing my “needs” (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social) to be met only to the point that I am more empowered to be of service to others, and over-indulging with legalistic justification that “I’m not good for anybody else if I’m not (happy/healthy/wealthy/etc.)”. Needs Vs. Wants. Self Vs. Service.
Knowing at what point professional medical care is required for any given ailment or injury Vs. DIY home-style remedies that are probably good enough.
Maintaining connections with friends “back home” Vs. Being fully engaged here, now.
Giving adequate attention to the discomforts and mini-ailments of others as a means of sympathizing and providing relief or support Vs. Indulging hypochondria and promoting whining. Also applies internally between self and self.
Buying fruit green enough that it won’t all spoil in 24 hours Vs. Having to wait a week for any fruit to reach a minimum level of edibility. Green…green…green…green…green…..riperotten.
Creating dependence mentalities through charity Vs. Enabling and promoting self-reliance and self-confidence through charity.
Practicing a level of personal and family health care that is sufficiently prudent and proactively preventive Vs. Giving way to an overly-cautious, experience-limiting, worry-fermenting, or faith-inhibiting timidity toward all things new, challenging, or “fun”.
Knowing when to push for changes toward improvement of a public good (at the family, organization, community, or national level) but ruffling feathers and stepping on toes in the process Vs. Let it be so because it seems to be working well enough for most people served as it now is, so just shut up and sit down and deal with it.
Democracy Vs. Tyranny in family life and in organizational leadership.
this list may grow…