Journeying into the business world... one undiscovered culture at a time

Welcome to [Per]Suit of Anthropology, a blog dedicated to the exploration of modern business trends and perspectives from the view of anthropologist, with a special emphasis on cultural understandings of work-life balance and disability rights in the workplace. This blog is a way for me to connect two sides of my professional self that I see in constant dialogue. Though the business world and the anthropological world may not believe it - they have more in common and more to learn from one another than readily acknowledged. Topics covered include: Western business practices and the impact of those decisions on socio-cultural institutions worldwide, invisible disabilities, Ignatian spirituality, work-life balance, and some discussion of issues of tourism and its impacts on culture, and common human capital practices in private industry and government.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wine, running, voting and the anthropologist

I lifted the glass to my nose, inhaling deeply as the smell of earth, trees, leaves, and fresh air wafted up to my nose.  The slight acidity of grapes punctuated the fragrance, tingling all the way down to my toes.  I lifted the glass up, the purple liquid translucent in the sun.  "Swish, swish, swish."  The trails of the liquid on the side of the glass ran like fingers slowly to the bottom of the cup - tracing patterns of an art project long forgotten in the realms of the mind.  Finally, I lifted the glass to my lips - the liquid strong and pungent - rolling over my lips and tongues like liquid velvet.  I hold the liquid in my mouth for a moment, breathing in air like a whistle over the top to properly allow the full flavor of the wine to examine my senses.

I smile, I write down my thoughts, "Tastes of pepper and blackberries," - and smile at the wine maker, "good wine!"

I put on the requisite equipment, moisture wicking material combined with enough layers to provide warmth but not hold my sweat against my skin.  I tie my shoelaces once, twice.  I position my watch on my wrist so that I can examine the time minimally without breaking strides, adjust my hat and ponytail and venture outside.  The cold air hits me like a blast but off I go...  one, two (breathe in) three, four (breathe out)... my feet pound the pavement.  Past the cemetery, across the bridge, and onto the Mall I go.  I pass visitors along the way, trying my best not to photo bomb, all the while my eyes fixed on the Capital in the distance, looming nearer with each step.  Pausing only for cars, and the occasional massive tour group, my body gets in a groove, like a well oiled machine.  Five, six, seven eight miles go by as I pass monuments to the great purveyors of our nation - salutes to the fallen, till I finally arrive back home, my mind coming out of a fog that only a long distance runner understands.

My hands are an icy mess - I cannot feel my fingers.  My stomach rumbles with hunger - I typically eat before leaving the house in a rush.   I stand in a line that weaves back and forth on itself, my neighbors engaged in hushed conversation (not wanting to break any rules).  I finally make it inside the school, only to find myself with another 100 people still waiting in line.  I finally arrive at the front, my ID checked, my ballot given, I go up to a machine to exercise a right for which so many valiantly fought.  For a moment I am reminded that I stand on sacred ground - a ground which so many helped pave, and many still crave to participate in.  Amid the tumult of the pre-election season, and the me versus the other mentality that pervades, I look around me, at the shared community of voters and citizens, I smile, push my buttons and move on in my day....

All these reflections above represent sacred rituals (both formal, but mainly informal) in which I've participated in the past two weeks.  Going to a winery for a tasting, going for a long distance run, and voting are all parts of shared experiences that are, at one time, a reflection of my own experiences and yet something shared within communities both recognized (like that of a voting precinct) and those a little less understood (the long distance runners groupies).  Nevertheless, each group has within it certain sacred practices, and sacred spaces.  Be it a bar in a winery - where you are meant to learn, discern and ultimately buy,  or the sacred space of a running path - where there are rules of etiquette on passing fellow runners.  Or more formally in the voting booths, where numerous discussion have been had in recent weeks on who 'belongs' to the community or not.

These topics all reflect the broader theme of this year's American Anthropological Association meeting "Borders & Crossings."  I am already excited at the themes to discover in the next few days, and I look forward to meeting many of my peers.  Now the question is - any suggestions on sessions to attend?

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