I’m a cultural spy

Being part of the cultural majority means that we have the ultimate bias. It means our version of reality is the correct one and that we get to decide what norms everyone else has to aspire to.

My ethnic background provides all the advantages of being part of the cultural majority while also giving me relevant perspective on what it’s like to not be part of the cultural majority.

My dad is from Argentina and my mom is from Kansas, and they met in Spain. Go figure.

Ethnically, they’re both European. My father’s family in Argentina all immigrated there from Calabria in Italy. My mom’s family came to America from Guernsey, a little island between England and France.

That’s why when you look at me, you see a white man. That’s what I am.

That said, I grew up speaking English and Spanish, traveling to Argentina often, learning and living by cultural norms my dad grew up with, and generally looking at the world from what felt like two distinct perspectives.

The school I went to growing up was about 65% Latino, and I was ‘one of the white kids,’ while still enjoying some of the benefits of being part of the cultural majority within that community.

I was in while being out.

I enjoyed the upside and the downside, and it made me keenly aware of what either side felt like, as well as what assumptions we make when we have no reason to see things from the another point of view.

I don’t say that to solicit sympathy the way some in the cultural majority do for those few seconds when they don’t enjoy that perch. I say it because this experience provided me with a glimpse into the dynamic of cultural majorities from a very early age.

When I went to a white majority high school I enjoyed the benefits of being part of that cultural majority, while also being able to score a few bonus points for being bilingual and having a dad with a cool accent.

It wasn’t until after college that I came up with the term ‘cultural spy’ as an explanation of my experience, but it feels so apropos.

I don’t think any of us, regardless of grouping, have any type of monopoly on virtue. I do think that experiencing both sides of the cultural majority coin is a hugely important experience. You don’t have to be multiethnic to experience it either. Travel provides the opportunity to not know the local language or be the cultural or racial exception, and it’s important that we embrace those experiences as welcomed discomfort.

I’ve used the term ‘cultural spy’ a lot over the last few years, so I thought it was about time I write it down.

Personal evolution

Personal evolution happens whether or not we’re intentional about it, but there appears to be massive upside to thinking at least one move ahead. Instead of reacting to external presets, this allows us to make proactive decisions instead of reactive ones.

It helps in entrepreneurship.

It helps with finances.

It helps with soccer.

But it also helps right before we hit a fork in the road.

I’m trying to drink my own kool-aid in that respect. For as much as I talk about flexibility, strategy, and creativity, I should certainly always be thinking about moves I can make that will set up tomorrow’s projects and goals.

So… that’s where my head is at.

Websites that rock

Over the past 5 years, I’ve worked with WordPress (and now Squarespace) to develop websites for my projects and for clients. I love the feeling of coming up with a creative idea and making it so. With some practice, it has become a really fun way for me to build things – and I love that process.

I recently finished a site for an incredible baritone opera singer and am super proud of it.

You can check it out here.

As with every site I’ve built recently, it provided learning opportunities, frustration, turning points, communication practice, and a really cool end result.

While the tendency can be to get overly precious with our websites, articles, social media posts, and blogs, the reality is that everything is an iteration. What’s more, the world of web development and design is flattening, creating better solutions that take less time, and allowing us to pivot without a ton of angst.

That said, building websites that rock is constantly a reminder for me to keep learning and taking things from idea to reality.

If you need a new website, feel free to give me a shout. Helping creatives and small businesses put their best foot forward is a blast… especially when it provides me an opportunity to learn and create.

It’s important that we feel activated. It’s important that we have fun.

What did your monologue say today?

Isn’t it funny how our lives are one continual internal monologue about our relevance, uniqueness, and vantage point?

We know we’re part of various communities and can aptly be defined by certain labels, but we’re always looking for a way to break into and out of those boxes…

“But, I’m different because…”

“I’m more this, that, or the other…’ or ‘I’m just like them.”

The cool part is that we’re always both completely unique and unwaveringly derivative. But I find it interesting that we’re always looking for a way to fit in and a way to differentiate from the crowd.

The reality is, I’m not that different… and that’s OK. At the same time, each of our unique experiences as humans are incredibly complex, beautiful, mundane, painful, fun, unbelievable, and intense.

There are so many stories in people.

What did your monologue say today?

Smashed time

When we cram things in and rush around, we do ourselves and our loved ones a few disservices.

Not only do we open ourselves up to additional costs, we also make the chances of stress, bad communication, and tension a lot more probable.

Time is our friend when we don’t smash it.

Phases and identity

It’s so easy to have our identity wrapped up in what we do.

Often times that’s how we earn income, support families, and build our lives, so it makes sense that we take pride in that.

I keep on telling myself that life is so much more about phases than one persistent identity. Who I am has changed so much over the years, and how I’ve spent my time has often reflected the existence of a phase, not a single identity that goes on unchanged.

If we think about jobs as projects and careers as a list of those projects, then maybe we can create more opportunities for ourselves and fall softer when the disappointments come.

The flexibility of phases make identity dynamic. Looking at it that way is also interesting, creates upside, and often yields independence.

So… what’s next?

The gateway drug

Christoph Niemann said, “The gateway drug isn’t making art, it’s experiencing art.” 

When I heard this quote in the first episode of Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix, it certainly made sense to me.

Being swept up by art is about those transcendent creative moments that blow our minds. A phrase worded perfectly, a mind bending guitar solo, a painting that amazes us, an artist that intrigues us… these are all gateway drugs.

Easy enough, then. It’s on us to increasingly put ourselves in a position to be moved by art.

It’s on us to find more gateway drugs.

Artrepreneurs

Artrepreneurs (art-truh-pruh-noors) 

People who match creative output with hustle and resourcefulness, allowing their art to create opportunities and earn income. By expanding their abilities in a way that positions business acumen as a full equal to the act of making art, these artists become their own bosses.

I’m not there yet… but I think a lot of us wish we could be. Some of us need a little chaos.

But can we harness it?

After my first session with Talib of EverEvolving.ca, I think we can. So how exactly can we nurture our tendency to follow creative energy while implementing support strategies to stay focused?

If you have that answer, you better not hold out on me!

Organic reincarnation

Spirituality is fun because it’s moldable. Unburdened by rigid constructs more commonly associated with organized religion, spirituality is personal. We can shape it, customize it, and incorporate science, psychology, rituals, and beliefs in varying proportions.

To that point, I’ve never really thought of a persistent human personality as a logical extension of my own spirituality. I used to think that meant I was somehow anti-religion or non-spiritual, but that changed after my study of buddhism, mostly Tibetan and Zen.

Since then, I’ve found a way to incorporate a scientific understanding of the decay of organic matter with the energetic chain that connects us with the future.

I call it, organic reincarnation.

When a body, organism, or person dies, in the most direct sense, our bodies return to the earth. As such, the cycle persists, regardless of what we believe about the continuation of our soul or personality…..

Earth, birth, death, earth, birth, death, earth.

To me, this has always been the most comforting of conclusions. Afterlife as framed through organized religion doesn’t pass the mustard, but neither does an atheistic view that sees death as some type of end, at least for me.

No matter what we believe, it’s cool that the earth feeds us and we feed it in return… whether during life or after, this seems like a good reminder for all of us.