My constant desire to learn about what other people care about drives me with great enthusiasm towards other cultures.
Normally my desire to see inside the minds and motivations of others is a very individual pursuit – I like knowing what makes a person tick more than I generally like learning what makes people tick. I think it’s because my fascination with people generally involves wondering what makes them different from everyone else, but when you study motivations from a more macro viewpoint you’re often looking at aggregates. And while sociology and economics fascinate me to no end, I think even those joys will always pale before the glee I feel when I just get to know one unique individual.
But no man is an island, and no one exists in a vacuum. People’s hearts and minds are swayed by the words and deeds of others, and that constant flowing web becomes the eddies and pools of culture. So that fascinates me too – the way that condition shapes tradition. It reminds me of the way that everything is interconnected, how the pattern of rain will shape the flow of a river, and how the flow of a river will shape the way people swim, and how there will always be people who swim differently regardless.
Tonight I ate at one of my favorite restaurants, a delicious Mexican restaurant run by an immigrant family. While there with my family, we met an multi-generational family of Koreans (some immigrants, some American-born) with two small children of their own. All the children happily played together, and my wife and their mother wished each other solidarity at the upcoming bedtimes. It was a nice evening.
For all our differences, some things are universal.