In Japanese culture/language there is a great deal that is left unsaid and must just be understood. Haragei is the method of communicating these unspoken messages that are more important (and truthful) than the stated words.
The amount of cultural context that you need to understand spoken Japanese is somewhat enormous. Which means that Japan is a "high context" culture.
As a plain-speaking Quaker (although not one who uses plain-speech, thank thee very much) this is infuriating. As a Scandinavian-Minnesotan it feels like home.
Now, I have looked into the sociolinguistic studies of Scandinavia proper, and find that Nordic culture is described as "low context." This means that what people say is generally what they mean and you don't have to know a whole lot of background and metaphor and tricky nonverbal cues to understand what they are saying.
I am convinced that the Scandinavians who came to Minnesota left because they did not communicate in this way. And they were too religious. And talked too much.
The United States as a whole is also considered "low context." However I maintain that there are so many different cultural linguistic patterns in the U.S. that making a blanket statement like that will not do an adequate job of describing the verbal waters we swim in.
I am at home in a linguistic world in which the most important things are unsaid and must be assumed. But how good of a mindreader am I? Fairly bad. Unless everything really is my fault and every time people exhale it means they are angry at something I have done.
When my Japanese instructor was explaining the distal-style speech that Japanese people used to communicate things that were difficult to say outright it made sense. Conflict should naturally be avoided at all costs. Allow people to save face. GIve them some room to interpret what you have said in a better light than maybe you actually meant it.
I have decided to try to stop reading people's minds. I just don't think it's a gift of mine. And if I am super worried about something, I will go ahead and ask about it. So if I start asking you stupid questions, すみません。
Today I went to five weddings (kind of... the people were already married but now it is legal in Minnesota) and one funeral. I cried more at the weddings and laughed more at the funeral. I sang at the top of my lungs and I sang quietly and I sang somewhere in between. That felt good.
Grateful Crap: the people all around me who support me in ways seen and unseen, spoken and unspoken. You give me a stable base from which to establish my defense against Dastardly Depression. I thank thee kindly F/friends.
took meds (150mg sertraline, 300mg bupropion)
took chewable B vitamins
rinsed my sinuses with salt water multiple times (fricken' sinuses)
went out to dinner and a movie with my spouse (18 years and 12 days of marriage behind us)
dropped off a bunch of crap at the Goodwill
Quaker, teacher, parent,