Sunday, December 21, 2014

Culture Shock Stage 2: The Malaysian Edition

Hello Culture Shock Stage 2, my old bitter friend. It’s been a while. I knew you would find me in the mountains of rural Japan, but I didn’t know you would find me on my dream-journey through SE Asia. I am supposed to love this place. I am supposed to be happy and grateful to be here.
But I'm not.

 I am in the I-Hate-Everything stage of culture shock. The wonder and awe that struck me as our taxi careened through Bali’s night markets  has long since wore off and I am almost past the point of being saved. I am disappointed in feeling this way. After enduring months of this feeling in Japan I thought I had enough of it to last a lifetime. But it found me again, this time of the trip that I have been planning for years. Now I am sitting here, two weeks in thinking, is this what I worked so hard for? Congested streets, smog, muddy rivers, leering men, poisonous food? I should have stayed home. That’s what I am thinking now. I am worn down from a lack of privacy. I’ve been retreating inward lately. Inspiration and energy for writing doesn’t seem to come. 

Here are my fears:
I am worried that this feeling of discomfort will last the entire trip
I am worried that I won’t fall in love with any place I visit.
I am worried that I won’t enjoy my time or the experiences I am having.
I am worried that I won’t be able to write for my novel, and that I will barely write for this blog.
I am worried that I won’t learn anything.

There. Those are my concerns. As I type them I am sitting in a narrow walkway on the second floor of VCR Cafe. The right wall beside me is actually a floor-to-ceiling window. From the second floor, I am above the filthy streets and instead, my view is shared with the lime green tree tops. I can rise above this, I think. I can love my life here, or anywhere. I have to. The fact that I have wanted to have this experience for so long, and the fact that now I am finding it hard to enjoy, is disappointing, but perhaps unavoidable. Maybe if I can break this spell I will fall in love with life again, deeper than before.  This dirty, awkward, disappointing life. You are all I have and I want to love you, love you, love you.

- Wednesday .Oct. 8, 2014 VCR Cafe, Kuala Lumpur

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