Saturday, March 2, 2024

Finding the Familiar

Have you noticed when passing through an unfamiliar town or city you look for something you recognize?  There's something "at home" about seeing a McDonald's sign or other restaurants or stores that you know.  And then, if you go into one of these places, you expect the same menu and quality!

A friend described this behavior as normal: we want to connect with something recognizable or intimate; we want to identify and belong... even as we experience the uniqueness of these new surroundings.

What makes you feel like you belong?
~ ~ Click to enlarge:  notice the writing on the right ~ ~
(Photo:  McDonald's in Budapest, Hungary
- Larry Gardepie, 1999)

I've encountered this several times when traveling in Hungary (seeing a McDonald's French Fries holder on the street), in Tahiti (visiting a church), and countless other places near or far away from home.

Another example:  have you ever been in a situation at work where a new CEO, director, manager, or supervisor is hired and tries to replicate their successes from their previous place of employment?  It doesn't take long for the old to be replaced by the new!

Where do you feel safe?
(Photo: St. Andre Church, Raiatea, French Polynesia
- Larry Gardepie, 2023)

We draw on what is familiar, and we project it out into our world and onto others.  We try to find or create familiarity.  I guess this helps us feel grounded and safe.

Another example:  whenever in Honolulu, I try to visit Iolani Palace (the only palace on U.S. soil), go on a tour, or visit a museum that describes the Hawaiian culture.  There is a slowness about the Islands that allows me to slow down... and notice.  

Though the Hawaiians had their own system of royalty and "kapu" (taboos, rules), they adapted to Western dress, the Christian religion, and the European royalty model... in order to survive.

How do you adapt?
(Photo: Throne Room in Iolani Palace,
Honolulu, Hawaii - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

When we seek out the familiar or replicate what we know, I wonder, are we trying to survive in a scary World Unknown?  What would it be like to allow curiosity to take hold and experience the unfamiliar?  Could we learn about ourselves if we embraced what is unique and traditional... before we ask it to conform to us?

Maybe, as we enter this new month with all of its unknowns, we sit first with our uneasiness and describe to others what we are missing or needing... before we seek out or replicate what is familiar.  We might surprise ourselves at what we find!

Larry Gardepie

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