Immigration can be a gift. It is much like the chance to touch up a painting, allowing one to change the hue of the background and add light to parts that need it. The artist can paint a gloomy view or a bright sunshiny one. It is indeed a choice.
Despite my good health, youth, and success, I used to be a sad Iranian before I moved to the U.S. But after four decades of American life, I can finally admire the blooms in the lovely landscape around me.
I come from a culture that not only allows self-pity, but in fact supports it. As Persians, we respect melancholy, sympathize with misery, and find it quite natural to go through life with a “baggage.” While I continue to respect the sorrow of others and even try to share it, I no longer can tolerate self-pity. However, change is never permanent and what is instilled in our young hears seems to remain there. As parts of the past try to pop up, one needs to suppress what can blemish the quality of life. This is only possible if we take a step back, look at the problem from a distance, and meditate.
Last week, I had a freak accident and broke my right leg. To many this may not seem a huge problem, but if you are Zoe and on each given day have “a-million-and-one” things to do, it IS! When the doctor put a new cast on my right leg and said, “No driving for two months,” when the sore shin prevented me from using the scooter, and while I tried to conquer the battle of the bath, self pity began to resurface. This is no time to rest as I should be getting ready for the Persian New year – vernal equinox, the arrival of my sister, and a big luncheon at our house. Instead, I’d be lucky to manage wheeling myself from the TV room to the kitchen for a stupid cup of coffee. Poor, poor, Zoe!
This morning, as I rolled on to the kitchen counter and gazed up from my new position into the backyard, all I could see from the view ahead, was a slice of the garden between the toaster and coffeemaker. The chair is so low that I could barely make out the level of the ocean. Oh, poor, poor, Zoe!
Then I tried to take a better look at myself. How pathetic I had been! What happened to the positive girl who appreciated life? Here I was, having banged my forehead against the cement – the bruise is still there – without knocking the life out of my brain! I survived a bad accident with a mere fracture, am surrounded by those who love me, can enjoy the toast and coffee my husband has just offered, and I’m looking out into a garden that is only beginning its magnificent new season. What is there to feel sorry for? “The slice of a view between a toaster and coffee-maker?” Oh, come on, Zoe. “You’re lucky to HAVE a toaster, a coffeemaker, and any view at all!”
So I wheel myself back to the TV room and sip my coffee while admiring the abundance of flowers sent in by friends and family. Each one of those flowers is a morsel of love that I could have been deprived of. Yes, I’m in a time tunnel, but despite the slow move, every day I am that much closer to the light. I can’t stop admiring the other side of this coin. Bad things always happen for a good reason, one just needs to find them. “Think harder, Zoe. Now all you CAN do for the next two months is write, write, and write!”
Zohreh K. Ghahremani’s photo.