March 20th 2010 – The first day of spring and the Iranian new year more commonly known as Nowruz (spelled at least half a dozen different ways in its tangled translation to modern English). The dawn of a new day, new season, and new beginnings. In a traditional Persian style, one of my cousins married his new bride. What marks the occasion in particular is not only the happy couple and our celebration of their love and union, which we tended to in abundance, but a family reunion that had been long since overdue.
After 20 years, all of my paternal relatives came together at long last in one city, in one room. There was no argument, no disagreement, no frown, no coldness — there were only tears, hearty laughter, and much silent forgiveness of the long years gone by without the union of us cousins, one that our parents so terribly should have granted us much sooner. Alas, we have the present and we will take it. We are all grown adults with our own families, careers, and homes. We are too old to play with each other or baby sit one another. We are not yet – not ever I hope – too old to delight in each other’s every word, every story and every joke. Try and stop us now from catching up on 20 years – with enough time and patience and love, we will make up for the lost time and make the future a different one.
We none of us knew we would feel this way in the company of one another, but some bonds are unbroken — that much we have proven naturally and without effort – and sometimes, second chances we receive, albeit unpleasantly late, and we must embrace what time we can have together now. The past we can probably not reclaim, but reminisce it we shall. The present and future, however, are at our command, and we plan to make up for that lost time with a vengeance — the soft and sweet and bubbly kind of vengeance, I mean.
Certain decisions form when you least expect them. All the techniques and skills available to us sometimes cannot work the magic of that unexpected moment when it all comes together. That instant when you take one look at life around you and decide to turn that longtime percolating idea into reality. You may still have no idea how to implement it, and most likely, even if you knew, you would have no time at all to work on it. Those facts, ironically, are irrelevant and secondary to the matter at hand. When you make that decision, you know you will find a way to bring it all to fruition. The rest is all detail.
In a similar manner, on the way home from that New Jersey reunion, I committed to the idea of writing my book, the memoirs of leaving Iran on a 2-week vacation to Turkey which has extended to over 20 years and on starting a new life in the US. I was initially inspired to do this after reading “Funny in Farsi” and more seriously, after finishing “Reading Lolita in Tehran“, both excellent reads whether you are American, Iranian or everything in between. Now I have no doubt I need to make my own memoirs happen.
In those moments before the instance your decision is made, many adverse factors present themselves shamelessly, boldly and loudly. Here is the unedited script of my mental monologue between my adversary self and me.
My adversary self:
“You are not a writer, you have engineering degrees (even though you never truly belonged in the field), background in computer networking and project management. Oh and blogging is not writing a novel, exactly.”
“First of all, I believe if you can feel, if you are determined to express yourself to the world and if you believe in your message, you can find a way to write and write well. In more practical terms, I will become a writer if I must – I will take creative writing classes and develop my voice as a writer.”
My adversary self:
“Even so, no one will read your book. You probably have to give it away for free. If not, you have to self-publish on demand and barely recover costs of producing it, much less make a profit.”
“So what? I am not writing because it has to be read; I am writing it to celebrate my memoirs and the life we left behind to live the new one. I am writing it as a tribute to our courage. And how do you know who will or will not read it until you try and until you do? Can we start by assuming limitless possibilities – or at the very least, abolish negative thoughts please so I can hear myself think clearly?”
My adversary self:
“You absolutely have no time for anything else. What are you going to give up to do this? Your full-time job? Your daily yoga practice? Your blogging and guest posting for the community? Your interest in photography? Your Tango? Your travels? Your reading? What are you going to change to make this even barely sensible?”
“I have no idea. I will find a way. All I know is that it will all work itself out with determination and perseverance. My mind is made up. The rest will follow. Haven’t you noticed how productive and creative I get when I am happy and on a mission? Maybe today, I am not as productive or as focused as I could be, and I believe inspiration alone will feed new life and new energy into my mind and body.”
My adversary self:
“So you have decided to work with your father on this because his memories will fill the gaps in yours. Brilliant in theory but you hardly agree on anything, and it might just end up being another abandoned project, with a lot of lost time (which you don’t have to begin with)!”
“Disagree we may but not on the fundamental things, mostly in our expression of it. And in its essence, we both cherish our memories of those days. Besides, agreeable minds do not exactly come up with the most creative and authentic material. Writing a book is not a quiet, undisturbed, and agreeable process. I imagine it would be chaotic, hard work, lots of sweat and tears and laughs, and many poor drafts before the golden one emerges. I am signing up for this and you, my dear mind, cannot change my mind, so get over it and get on board because we are writing a book to tell the world about our memoirs!”
To my Beloved Readers: A penny for your thoughts on family reunions, new decisions, battling self-doubt when new ideas set in and embracing possibilities. Leave us a comment below and start a conversation.