Something in our conversation over the fire the other evening triggered the topic of the "Universals”: The things in every culture that are simple necessity. The small moving parts that make the greater machine turn as a whole. Present in every corner of the world, painted different, sonically separate, yet still at the end of the day; the very same subjects.
Every culture has it's food. You will literally find chicken and rice available every single place you visit. I challenge you to find a place that doesn’t. It’s probably an island, and you are probably far from humanity. Arguably, there may even be wild jungle birds resembling a chicken that ARE eaten. And maybe, just maybe you could be in some hidden resess that doesn’t actually have rice on the menu. But I doubt it. It seems to be the one staple that transcends borders, peoples and places.
The talk went on to include more than just food, clothes, shelter. It was argued that art, music (arguably part of “art”), prostitution, dance, slavery, hunting, humor, and many other things are all simply pieces of the human experience that we all share in some capacity or another. I think that these pieces are all layered thickly in every part of the world, and are sort of the fabric of what makes a culture a culture.
To travel without taking in these things in is in some way sort of missing the point. There is a selfish kind of fulfillment in hitting a resort for a few days and never leaving the safety of the compound. Honestly not my favorite way to travel, but there is merit in just shutting off your phone (your brain as well, why not), letting your guard down, and getting a long nap by the pool. Honestly, there have been plenty of times where I have looked at the bank account and been tempted to just check out for four or five days. More than once I have done just that.
I found these photos I had forgotten about while I was organizing a bit and was immediately reminded of our conversation. The importance of dance in particular is present in every culture I can think of. It is a means of communication. It is part of courting. It is different in every social class, caste, and group. It transcends our typical means of expression. And it’s fun to boot. Now if only I wasn’t such an embarrassed dancer! Shaking the social anxiety of dancing is on my bucket list. But that’s for another day.
Photos from The Annual Dragon Boat Festival, Denver, CO, July 11th, 2014.This is an entry originally published in 2014.