Geographic Snobbery: II

Okay, so it really bugged me. The geographic snobbery, that is. All this week, I keep encountering it from San Franciscians, both people I know and almost-strangers.

The latest flurry of comments along the lines of, “˜ I bet you’re glad you don’t have to go to the MIDWEST this year for Christmas”¦’ and each time it rankles me. (Particularly as I’m a bit homesick for family and friends.)

As I well know from warriors, every strong charge I have with something is always about me. I can be outraged and disappointed by someone else all I want”¦and yet the “˜charge’ originates from within.

It’s not always easy to see this charge, especially while bristling in silent outrage. As a result, I refused to see my own charge in these geographic snobbery remarks. I kept thinking, “˜what’s wrong with these people?’ instead of asking the more warrior-like question: how is this about me? What am *I* contributing to making this a charge?

Ah. Right.

A little pondering and reflection has revealed my expectations, my beliefs that contribute to aforementioned rankling. Expectation #1: people living in such a place of beauty should appreciate that beauty comes in many forms.

I harbored an unconscious expectation that people living in the bay area to be EXPERTS on the topic of beautiful geography, which (to me) means seeing recognizing the beauty inherent in many geographic locations. These people are not meeting my expectation.

And the lovely thing that happens when reflecting on expectations is that I can see them for what they are ““ projections. Sometimes quite ridiculous projections at that.

Why should a person living in San Francisco be more attuned to beauty than a woman living in Madrid, Spain or a couple living in Alabama?

As I thought about this, I realized expectation #2: folks in San Francisco would be more open, more tolerant”¦more like Tales of the City characters. Ooooops ““ now THAT is ridiculous: that I should expect the real world to act more like favorite book characters?!?

THAT is ridiculous.

I have to admit that when it came to being open to other ways of living (yes, even places to live), I thought the people here would not have “˜shadow.’ And each time someone from San Francisco puts down Minnesota, there’s some twinge of shadow showing up, some need to be “˜right,’ or ego-triumphant.

This quality is not that unique.

I have heard Minnesotians bristle in defensiveness and then brag on the state’s admirable qualities. I’ve heard Chicagoans RAVE about how it’s the greatest city and how you’d be stupid not to live there. But I expected that individuals living here in the bay area would NOT have that shadow. That they would be free of it, more evolved somehow.

Who knows how I developed this prejudice, this projection? Meh. Who cares. What matters now is this: can I let go of it?

In the next week or two when someone says, “You’re going back to Minnesota, huh? How awful for you”¦” will I be able to let it go?

I think so.

The great thing about ferreting out the buried expectations, the ridiculous standards I set for others is that by my looking at them, reflecting upon them, holding them in the light”¦they deflate a bit. They lose some of their illusory power.

In fact, the power of those buried expectations comes from hiding in the dark.

Leave a Reply