Yesterday morning I got up, ate some ‘gurt, pulled on my running stuff and was out the door. First stop: the bank to make a deposit then across the street to Rite Aid for some random necessities. Next: 6 miles on the woodchips in the vertical park in Manhattan Beach (oh how I miss my Saturday 12 milers!). Last: Wholefoods with a short list of items (that ballooned to include everything we needed for the week–oops). Three hours later, I pulled up into the driveway and noticed a large package sticking out of my mailbox.
[Side bar: I LOVE getting stuff in the mail. I suspect that I order things online just to get that excited feeling when the stuff arrives.]
I could barely contain myself when I found the package had my name on it. Sweet! I hastily put away my perishables from the market and tore into the package (well, tearing for me is really quite a lame event–I even neatly fold up my wrapping paper when unwrapping presents at Christmas….oy!).
How cool is that! My package came from Abby–I’m sure you know her. If you don’t, head over there and check out her blog (I don’t mind if you go now and come back here later). She’s witty and creative and pretty darn cool. We both LOVE the Red Wings among other things. Cool, I tell ya.
By the time I was done checking out my goodie bag, it was time to make lunch and get ready for a High Tea I was invited to as a member of a Women’s Committee within one of my professional groups. Then my friend who I was going to carpool with, called and told me that her baby was sick and she couldn’t go. Arrgh. I was hoping she’d be my buffer at this event, as I’ve found out recently that the women in this group are all mothers. Make that supermothers–doctors with kids. Which makes me feel very uncomfortable and completely inept (for reasons that I will not go into).
Back to the story. After my friend bailed, I began looking for a way out of this thing. It’s not like it was even close to my house. Without the carpool lane, it would take nearly an hour to get there. The SigAlert online made my decision much easier–traffic looked like ass and it would take much, much longer than a mere hour to get there.
So, like the coward (or, more preferentially, shy person) I am, I called and cancelled. I was relieved to say the least. I somehow became very amped up at this point and went on a cleaning rampage. By the time hubs got home from his retreat in Palm Springs, the house was nearly immaculate. Why does cleaning feel so good?
Of course, since not going to the function, I’ve felt terribly guilty. I’m reading a book right now called The Geography of Bliss (it’s quite good, actually), by Eric Weiner, and ironically, I just read a part about individualistic cultures vs. collectivist cultures. As you might guess, America is considered very individualistic. Whereas a place like Japan is a collectivist society. Research shows that collectivist cultures value social harmony more than any one person’s happiness, while the U.S. emphasizes personal satisfaction. Researchers have found that personal happiness is increased in the collectivist cultures. This makes sense to me. I’ve found the lack of a cohesive culture, or at least group harmony, makes me feel sad.
But I contribute to my own individualistic culture. I bailed on the High Tea when I should have gone and made connections with other women who have had some of the same experiences (at least professionally) I’ve had. According to the book above, there is a Japanese expression: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” Like many Americans, I am a protruding nail.
I’ve known this for a while–at least intuitively. I’ve never been ultra-social and many times will avoid social functions for a variety of reasons. I’m working on it and have been for a while. Believe it or not, but my nail doesn’t protrude nearly as much as it did, say, a decade ago. And interestingly, my happiness has increased over this same time span.
What about you? Most things are on a spectrum. What end of the cultural spectrum do you tend to gravitate towards? Why?
And what’s the best package you ever received in the mail?