Sunday, December 2, 2007

Perspective is a choice.

So strange is the amount of innocence I had in a place so full of absolutism. The dichotomy of my parents alone was something I didn't fully digest until later days. What a curse for an Arab man living in Saudi Arabia, to have not just one daughter, but two?! I was the second, the hope for a son, squashed at my birth. Another girl. As a child I felt he was lucky to have us. (of course).

Being a parent, my perspective of my father changes. In the kingdom...we were liability, some gradient of a huge burden. Yet, I felt so safe, so strangely aware of the corruptness of such a place where my father would speak in three languages in a day (Arabic, Swahili, English). I would watch, attentively. Learning the ways of the world in a third world country. The barter in every situation, the lies, the constant need to seem in control. Beauty in a landscape and a certain beauty in the way my father would bend and fold to whatever the moment required to protect us, to provide.

So strange the family I grew up in ( who doesn't say that?) There is a grand ignorance I had to growing up in a multi-cultural family. A socialistic mother, and an Arab father. My odds of living a duplicitous life was fated at conception. If only I could weave that into the explanations of myself and my many mistakes..Instead, I have come to accept that there is a certain point in time where one must let go of all blame, to the injustice of childhood, the betrayal of parental loss ,or worse, parental denial. I have found a softness through the lens of blind acceptance of what is, and what was. It cast the type of filtered light that makes everything a simple, but golden glow.

Perspective is a choice. Simplicity is harder than winding the complicated roads of how we got to where we are. There are so many things we don't chose. So many things that happen to us, happen for us. The choice is in how to see it. One can swallow and hold the pain and dark suffering of the history that created us in contradiction, in lies, in hurt and fear. That is usually the easiest reaction, at the very least; it is the most natural.

Or you can choose to repel all the negative attachments to the things that have carved our path, accept them as building blocks and proof of our own strength in survival. The choice is to carry weight, or merely acknowledge the load and pack it away somewhere visible, but ineffective. As if to say: "I see you damnit. You exist, but you are just a paint stroke in the masterpiece."

When, for whatever reason ( and there are too many to count) I find myself warring with myself, triggared by someone, thing or memory... I picture a spider-webby creaky attic full of cardboard boxes. A room deep in my subconscious with labels on smaller doors: "Childhood" "Humiliation" "Love"....and every time I need to reconcile a part of my life, I gently push the old wooden door open, clearing years of dirt and film on the floor in the shape of a semi-circle. I look around in amazement at the endlessness of the boxes, and how the room always seems uncomfortably familiar.

Today I approach Childhood (yet again). Take a deep inhale and blow the fresh dust off of the decomposing cardboard box marked: "Missing Dad." Unfolding the rectangular flaps one at a time. My heart plummets for that moment. I see the files and files of daily hurt, the raw wounds that still tremble next to the neatly packed folders that almost smile back at me with resolve. The sound of his smooth, even-keeled voice challenges my throat to swallow hard. I place my acceptance of missing him this morning in the accordion size folder full of these kinds of mornings. It slips in with an echoing "plop" sound like a rock hitting then sinking into water. I love him. I am allowed to hurt, and I do. Today.

Unceremoniously, I re-approach the door, look back again at the boxes on shelves lit by the light from the window of hope. I nod my head to the distant but strange beauty in knowing we all have this, we all deal. Instead of carrying out the attachments and meanings, and trying to deconstruct all these boxes full of complex thoughts, I leave a little less heavier than when I came. That's how it goes.

That's how I choose to leave it today.

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