I had an art professor in college that was soon to take off for Africa to live and explore. I was in one of his last classes at Sauk Valley Community College. His lasting advice is something that I have taken to heart all of this time, and will never forget.
“Have some culture in your life.”
While he meant “culture” in different locations, I interpret it as “culture” in different backgrounds more closer to home.
I touched on this subject in an old Blog entry from June 26, 2013.
As someone who was not born a typical human being, through Autism and Asperger’s, I have always tried to find out what makes up the composition of one’s personality.
Much of it has to do with culture and background.
Growing up, I felt like the center of the wheel of graduating-class personalities. One spoke led to the preps, another to the nerds, another to the goths, another to the impoverished, etc. I have always been fascinated with figuring out why people are who they are; through these connections among my own classmates.
As far as my own personal surroundings, they were a little of everything that had a positive quality. I grew up in a community that had a little of everything, although in high school it seemed as if each different group stuck together with little connections. There were a few people that “bucked the trend” sort to speak. I found myself having much in common with those that grew up in rich neighborhoods and were well-organized.
My work with high school sports has given me access to different types of people. The “prep” stereotype does not take up the entire team roster – all different types of kids are on the teams and even stand out more than the others. They listen to different music. They watch different television shows. Some kids even have kids of their own.
In trying to understand the backgrounds of these kids, I’ll take a drive around their neighborhoods and even patronize some of the businesses in those neighborhoods – the latter is perhaps the finest way of understand the cultures and backgrounds of other people. After all, a big factor in relocations is whether the surroundings are similar to you or not.
Because I happen to fall in the exact middle of things, I can successfully transition from a small corner store in an ethnic neighborhood to Downtown Winnetka without having to do too much. It’s at these places where I can see and experience the everyday lives of the others that shop at these places. An example of the many as to do with young children behaving in a public setting. Certain places see parents doing more yelling than others.
With each little observation, I can also learn more about how to do things and why things are the way they are.
One thing I try NOT to do is determine whether surroundings are “above me” or “below me.” The latter perhaps more. I’ve been with people that have said “let’s not go there, this place over there is much better,” and they’re talking about two identical gas stations based on what they look like.
Some of my travel with both high school sports and, more particularly, with Illinois HS Glory Days, has brought me to places that any person like me would definitely not feel comfortable in. That being said, I have attended and covered games on Chicago’s south and west sides, as well as done research on old high schools from these areas.
I’m still waiting to experience the differences between a yacht club and a strip club in the same day. That, and a five-star restaurant and a dive bar.
But when it comes to “Honey, why don’t we do something different,” we’ll look upward. 🙂