Small parcels of openness

If you live in a place like this, where the natural environment dictates so much of your lifestyle, it’s only natural that you develop compassion for your fellow human beings.

For example, the snow makes the roads much narrower, which in a place with already narrow roads is a disaster. But everyone understands this, and there’s almost a competition to be the most considerate person to other people using the road.

At the same time, however, the environment makes getting around difficult, and so people spend excessive amounts of time indoors with the same people. This makes it harder to develop social skills, and people tend to keep to themselves more.

As a result, there is an insider outsider complex here. Anyone seen as an outsider is viewed with caution, naturally of course, and it takes a lot of effort to break the wall and become a true insider.

I think I have achieved that to a certain level here, and you’d hope so after 10 years, but I think a lot of that is due to the small parcels of openness that people inevitably offer, and then reciprocating in the right way.

Being closed off yourself is not good. People don’t respond well to that anyway, but especially here. This means you need to be inviting, but also cautionary to show a bit of your own weakness, a weakness that other people can see and want to help with.

Also, wanting to meet new people and actually listening to them goes a long way as well. I think a lot of my ability to listen is due to my agreeableness, which isn’t always a good thing, but it’s definitely helped me build relationships here.

Be kind, listen, and be compassionate. That would be my advice to those entering a new environment.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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