On Cultural Adjustment

Every fish may know how to swim, but not all water is a pond.

The movie “Finding Nemo” came out while I was in Morocco. It only took one viewing for it to become a favorite between me and my housemates. It only took three for us to begin quoting it to each other. For those of you who may not have seen it yet, and for those of you who saw it once five years ago, the movie is about a very fearful clownfish named Marlin whose son Nemo gets whisked out of the ocean by a human. Marlin leaves the reef for the first time ever in order to save Nemo. Along the way he meets Dory, a cheerful fish with a short-term memory problem – she forgets almost everything a moment after it happens. On the up-side however, this means she almost never gets down; she forgets all the aweful things that almost kill her. This brings me to the point: the most oft quoted lines among my housemates when I lived in Casablanca. In one scene about half-way through the movie, when hope of finding Nemo is almost gone, Dory says to Marlin:
“Hey there Mister Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?”
“No I don’t wanna know.”
“[singing] Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.”

Being in a new place is never easy: learning a new job, making new friends, learning new rules, setting up a new space. Right now I’m treading water. I’m still waiting for the shipment of stuff I sent from Tallahassee last July; I still don’t know who to talk to about the leak in the bathroom and the broken window pane; I still get really tense when driving; and I’m still trying to figure out how to get middle school students to sing every other day. However, I’m thankful for the apartment; thankful for the space I have to house the many guests I’ve already had come through; thankful for the support my administrators have shown me; thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to travel; thankful for the friendships I’m discovering; and thankful for the regular internet access that has kept me connected to friends around the world. Right now I’m praying for grace and patience to carry me to December break. Lord willing, the shipment will come between now and then, and I’ll finally be able to set up house.

In the mean time, I’ll take the advice of a little blue fish and “just keep swimming.”

2 thoughts on “On Cultural Adjustment

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  1. May your adjustment be quick and painless.Finding Nemo <>is<> indeed the greatest. You know I used to show that to my kids every year, and have them analyze it for accuracy and species identification?Okay. I thought I remembered that someone I knew was in Tallahassee! I moved to Wisconsin to help out my dad. His wife died in March, and he had some physical illness as well. We moved out here because there were so many friends and family from the old days, when I was born- and he grew up in the area. But then, he suddenly got a call with a job offer, and so he left me alone, in an RV, in the middle of winter, in Wisconsin…while he went off to Tallahassee. He moved down there a week ago. Too bad you still aren’t around there- but perhaps that’s for the best 😉


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