A month to honor fathers and graduates, June also offers World Butterfly Awareness Day (the 2nd) and the anniversary of the publication of Ernest Thayer’s famous baseball poem, ‘Casey at the Bat’ (the 3rd). Superman made his first comic appearance in June, and Egypt first became a constitutional republic rather than a monarchy years ago this month. Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova entered space June 1963 as its first civilian, and NASA launched Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity ten years ago in June, to provide footage of the red planet.
In the same spirit, Synchronized Chaos International Magazine’s June 2013 issue permits our readers glimpses into new and familiar worlds.
Lukas Clark-Memler continues his travel narrative from Borneo, while Heather Spergel’s children’s book hero explores magical realms with the help of a very special guitar. Regular columnist Leena Prasad, author of the neuroscience column Whose Brain Is It, explores the phenomenon of hypnosis. Fe de los Reyes’ musical Amerikana dances through the frustration and hope of the Filipino-American immigrant experience, and Romanian writer and painter George Teseleanu reviews Charles Ayres’ memoir of working within the Japanese entertainment industry as an American expatriate.
While Ayres has peppered Impossibly Glamorous with anecdotes about Japan’s music industry, the backbone of the tale is Charles himself: his resilience, humor and hunger to create places for himself to belong, wherever he travels. Although this can become a cliche of travel writing when not done well, the author experiences as much self-discovery as international education through his work abroad. He learns to select elements of various lifestyles and subcultures he admires, and incorporate them into his own life, consciously choosing to create his world rather than merely becoming a product of his environment. Summing up these hard-won life lessons as humorous commandments, he demonstrates how he has processed and integrated his experience into his daily life.
The Filipino/a immigrants in Fe’s performance piece also assert some control over their own identities, by choosing to appreciate both their homeland and their new lives in the United States. Even more so than Charles Ayres, Fe knows who she is and where she comes from. This knowledge gives her the strength to survive a complex and difficult immigration experience and embrace what she finds positive in a new culture.
Social scientists who have examined the psychology of extreme altruists, such as those who sheltered Jews during the Holocaust or launched initiatives to feed the poor or care for the elderly, point to feeling secure in one’s identity and having a sense of belonging as a predictor for pro-social behavior. If you know who you are, and are part of a solid, even if small, community, you can be more willing to do the right thing even when it is unpopular or risky.
Those factors may promote creativity and courage, as well as altruism. Feeling comfortable with yourself, and knowing that you have a home where you are welcome, can make you brave enough to explore a new world and experience it on its own terms, rather than projecting your own needs and insecurities onto its canvas.
Many of this month’s contributors have found the strength to peer out into new worlds, providing a glimpse of different realms of experience. San Jose’s Elizabeth Hughes mentions and reviews several new self-published and small-press books, in the first edition of her Book Periscope column.
Mimi Sylte also kicks off a new column dedicated to fashion, unique in that she focuses on designers in or near San Francisco, a city known more for writing and other forms of art. In her first piece, Sylte introduces herself and why she’s writing on the subject.