Creatively expressing adaptation
As we undergo varied adaptation processes, beyond the physical and cognitive, it is important to recognize our affective responses. Songs or poems can help clarify the complex feelings encountered. A sample poem is provided.
When we’re stretched emotionally, it can help to revive familiar or discover new outlets for personal reflection and expression. In times of cognitive overload, we need places or approaches that allow us the space to sort out our thoughts and feelings and gain perspective.
For some that means finding a quiet coffee or tea house to provide safe or familiar space for reflection or good talks. Others prefer listening to music alone or with others. Some like to go to bars to hang out with other sojourners, or favorite food restaurants. Though such places or activities provide easy access for relaxation and communication, making a habit of any one mode might end up providing more of an escape than an engaged process of dealing with the tension within.
It can be helpful to plan in breaks for exercise, a good jog, or a quiet walk in a park or more secluded place. Some feel the need to express their feelings in song or making long phone calls. Still others find that creative outlets help, like sketching or painting, taking photos, exchanging those pictures, observations, or thoughts by social media. Several of your educators have found that keeping a journal helps, writing out the wide range of experiences, confused feelings or contending ideas down, mulling over observations, or sometimes even writing a poem or some song lyrics. Below is an example for you to consider.
Lyrical prose isn’t everyone’s language, but most likely, you DO have one or two ways that you could imagine trying to better go through cultural stress experiences. It is worth reflecting on what outlets you have found helpful, find interesting to try, or think are good approaches from your fellow learners?
this lonely weight of alienation
while wandering silently, soulfully,
observing all as an outsider
on a segregated sojourn
from somewhere, someone past
to something yet unclear and undefined,
confined by limits of perception-
the reception of new cues confused,
yet fusing what I was with what I will become -
transformed by this transition -
something growing on this journey;
a yearning to connect, respect
and be respected, affected by affection,
lives linked in this direction –
the discovery of a wandering soul
made whole by understanding
and by reaching toward relationships,
by contexts now crossed over
without overlooking the significance
of lives and lifestyles quite different-
no longer divisive or indifferent
to the “otherness” that distanced us before.
This location is a disconnect no more.
Written in Taipei, May 23, 2004
during evening walks after presentation sessions of
the International Academy of Intercultural Research (IAIR)
as a response to the confused feelings of cultural isolation
in a location where I began my career in Asia 25 years ago,
yet now feel quite distant from due to this long and varied journey
and how that has changed and is changing me
in my poly-contextual personhood.
© Steve J. Kulich, Shanghai International Studies University