It has been a long time since my last update, and life has taken me to some unexpected but hoped for places since I returned from living in Asia. I recently read that reverse culture shock can take up to 2 years to run its course. I can say that after 7 months, I am fairly well through the adjustment, but my mind continues to wander and compare experiences to my time in Asia. I’ve gotten used to reading expressions on the faces of those around me (the sudden awareness of the emotional status of perfect strangers, expressed in their facial expressions, body language, and general uninhibited extroversion was one of the most difficult aspects of re-entry for me. It was so overwhelming.)
The foreigner bubble I inhabited in Asia, while at first lonely, became quite comfortable as I branched out and lead a life rich with vibrant relationships, predictable weekly rhythms, scheduled down time, and more simplified living circumstances: a good salary, neighbors within walking distance and a greater network of communities within a bus ride. The convenience and simplicity of a studio apartment filled with my 3 bags worth of things from home and a hand full of used hand-me-downs from other teachers, no car, awesome public transport, late night food and drink within one block of home, and life on a peninsula that takes only 5 hours corner to corner to cross was awesome. As was being able to sit in a coffee shop and zone out, not bothered by the conversations near by, the topics of which, with much focus, I could sometimes vaguely discern.
My life in Korea has begun to occupy a region in my memory that previously only knew that mixture of free time, boredom, creativity, trouble and adventure of the Summer vacations of my elementary and middle school years. I often wonder if it is just a romanticized memory, but it has been such a short time since I have been gone that I feel it is more than that. I have a strong inkling that it was both right for me to depart when I did AND that I will be back there again some day, making a significant life investment. Whatever that might be, God only knows.
As for my life and adventures here in Seattle, my circumstances are fairly awesome, though challenging. In December I took a position working for a small faith based non-profit that is trying to do community development work, both by supporting various outreach initiatives and working to grow missional communities. As they are in the midst of a fairly notable transition, it has been a hectic introduction to small non profit, ministry oriented work circumstances. I have learned so much from this experience already, and I am praying about how I can move forward with them. (This weekend, for Easter Sunday, I am coordinating an outreach in Pioneer Square in down town Seattle. We will be serving coffee, juice and baked goods to people mainly of disenfranchised backgrounds. We will also be offering to pray and worship with anyone around in the spirit of Easter).
One of the downsides to my current work situation is that the amount of down time I have is severely encroached upon by time sensitive and unpredictable issues. If I took one thing away from my time in Asia, its that I am an introvert that needs to be able to structure down time into my life. As I have a severe deficit of down time in my life currently, the creative and philosophical part of my mind feels like it is absolutely neglected. Such a lack of inspiration was rarely a concern in Korea, where I frequently had well protected down time.
In spite of this, I have been able to start a musical project with two good buds and former band mates (formerly of Heliocentric. Side note: the Heliocentric page now has our discography archived with free access to all!). Our new project, the Seabeast Has Hands, was recently featured in the most recent issue of “This Great Society” (listen to Pelagic) .
We are focusing on a little more improv with this band than past projects. Don’t be mislead. While most of our recordings currently posted are geared more towards meandering atmospheric contemplations, the majority of the material we have been focusing on is fairly directional and robust, with a healthy rhythmic emphasis. We have been delving into harder, darker builds, with a fair amount of inspiration coming from bands like Jakob and Rosetta. We have also been using a baritone guitar liberally, and it is awesome.
Another update has to do with my living situation. I am currently living in community with some awesome people. There are 9 of us, and we connect on a weekly basis to eat, work in the garden, and share life together. We are a multi-generational bunch, and I have gained so much from the relationships I have developed in this home. More on that later…
Finally, I have yet to hear the final word, but it would appear that my infamous 1985 Volvo has breathed its last. Once upon a time called “Bert”, and more recently “the Chastity Belt”, this fine piece of Swedish engineering spuddered to a halt on Lake City Way last weekend.
The fantastic part of it all was that just the night before, I had actually sat in my car and prayed, thanking God for the provision of that car: I had driven it off and on for 9 years, spent less than 1300 dollars to repair and maintain it, and I got it for free. I prayed a prayer of thanks, and I asked the Lord that it might accomplish the journey He had purposed for it. The next day, boom! It was toast… The whole event just felt right, strangely, and I have been the beneficiary of multiple friends’ offers to loan me a vehicle for the week (I still need a permanent fix for this issue). I have also been relishing riding my bike through Seattle…. It is so freeing!
Now that I am back up and running, I hope to update this blog every couple weeks. In closing, I have to say that God has given me everything I have asked for in this season of my life. I am surrounded by so many community opportunities it is amazing. He is certainly a God of goodness in my life, and His justice is perfect. As I mentioned, while the thoughtful part of my brain is out of gas, I have some old sputtering ruminations on the relationship between community and individualism that will be posted here shortly… as well as more updates on community initiatives I come into contact with, among other things.
Peace and Love.