Feeling More American AND More Cosmopolitan

After traveling in 10 countries over the past two months I feel more American than ever before. But I also feel more globalized, more cosmopolian, more similar than different to Europeans, and strangely enough, less American. It’s a weird duality that my friend Pierre Claus pointed out.

What things will I do when I return home? I will get into a gaz-guzzling SUV and drive down a 5-lane freeway. I will go to Costco and buy 10-packs of cereal, 6-packs of ketchup, and everything else in massive quantities. I will ask for water at a restaurant and not pay for it. I will inhale air at a restuarant and not smell a cigerrette for miles. I will eat peanutbutter and jelly on bread and on saltines. I will eat pancakes — not thin Dutch style pancakes, but thick pancakes with butter. I will eat American crepes — not French thin crepes, but ones stuffed with all sorts of food spilling over the plate. I will eat American pizza (pizza with 10x the toppings).

I will be entrepreneurial. I will take risks. I will be a capitalist. I will proactively confront and criticize friends and colleagues in the spirit of eternal forgiveness. I will listen to some country music. I will walk down a street and see people from all walks of life who say they’re American, and I’ll enthusiastically support their own self-declaration.

I will be optimistic. I will see each moment as precious. I will believe that tomorrow will be even better than today. That tomorrow will bring the answer I’ve been looking for, the person I’ve been waiting to meet, the good news that’s been stuck in traffic.

I will enjoy season-less San Francisco weather. In other words, I’ll enjoy a moderate climate, and I’ll put on a jacket if I walk out the house after 5 PM, 365 days a year.

Most of all, I will pursue happiness. I’ll pursue it seriously, knowing that if I don’t, I let society tell me how to be happy. I will pursue it knowing that I came into this world alone, and will leave the world alone, but that in the intervening time I should enjoy social connections.

I won’t be just American. I’ll be a more cosmopolitanized Ben Casnocha, whose allegiance doesn’t extend to a state as much as to humanity.

I will, I hope, be more fully human.

10 comments on “Feeling More American AND More Cosmopolitan
  • What happens when you see someone with a map flailing in the wind clearly lost and clearly ESL at best?

    BTW, they have pbj on graham crackers packaged that rock! I had them on the CA Aids Ride…company is called Cloverleaf I think.

  • I wonder if you could continue learning through travel, by taking a multi-week trip off the beaten trails of the Midwest, the South, the rural rural West.

    Having family in a small Midwestern town (less then 5,000 people) I can say there is a huge cultural difference between SF and here. A difference that could be more then the difference between London and SF.

  • Ben-

    Bravo. That was possibly the best piece of writing I’ve read on your blog yet (and that’s not saying the other stuff was weak). I love America, and you articulated an idea that i’ve been grappling with trying to effectively express since I’ve returned. When you travel you come back home with an appreciation of your home as well as where you’ve been. Having traveled to Europe, I don’t see myself as more American or more European, traveling has made me more human. There is a oneness in our species that is amazing to see up close. There are also many differences, no one’s way is perfect and we all pick up new information by interacting with different people.

    It reminds me of another idea I pulled off your blog when I first started reading. Great advancements occur at the intersections of different ideas.

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  • i came up to your website only by random after reading The second times of The start up of you. I find myself on a similar situation and i call it The eclectic man. I’m from haiti, i began To study medecine there. I move to mexico since 2010. I went to académic interexchange in The US and in france. My mexican friends make The Same mistake seeing Haiti through me like The haitian’s through mexico through me. I feel that I’m a global citizen and at The Same time from nowhere. I’m not total y haitian, mexican, french or american. I’m think that I’m jonas. I’m writing a book about how traveling, Diversity and study abroad change someone life and I’m really happy to see that I’m not The unique person like that on The world.

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