On the Shoulders of Trees I Stood…

Do you have a favourite tree?

People tend to look at me funny when I ask them this question. Surprisingly, while just about anyone can pick out a favourite flower, I haven’t met too many that have an attachment to a tree.

My memories are full of trees. Perhaps this speaks to my observant nature, but I think there’s a little more to it. For those of us who have lost their motherland, there are few reminders of home around the world, so we rely on the few things that can consistently be found in foreign lands.

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On Mementos…

Image property of Hack: Dream life [Marian D.] ©2018. All rights reserved.

Human beings are collectors by design. Since the beginning of time, we have collected objects in the effort to tell, and to retain, our stories. We’ve also built, painted, sculpted, made music, and wrote in an effort to create souvenirs for our children’s children, so that they may have the chance to experience their history long after the primary actors are gone. After all, it is only in this way that they can continue the mission forward.

We are storytellers, and we are quite good at weaving the webs of memory into powerful tales that sustain us despite the grip of death.

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On Blending…

Today, I’m giving you some homework. Ask a traveler, an immigrant, or a refugee about the great “melting pot” or “stew” that they are now a part of. What does it feel like to be the key ingredient?

Don’t know a traveler, an immigrant, or a refugee? Then it’s time to get out there and meet someone a little different.

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On Nostalgia…

It’s no secret… we have the tendency to live either in the past or the future, seldom in the present. Everyone reminds us constantly that we should enjoy the current moment, or at least be mindful of it. Many of our books and movies point to the same message. We nod and agree, then we go back to re-imagining how good it was and envisioning how good it’s going to be.

We miss old friends, and search for new ones. We reminisce about the days when we were younger, and tell ourselves they were much better days.

As I inch towards the end of my 20s, more and more people are getting back in touch. People I once knew and lost touch with are trying to form a connection back to me, and I tend to welcome them back with open arms and a question: “why now?” Often, they are armed with a question in response: “what happened?”

Life is what happens when you’re busy reflecting on the past and making plans for the future.

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On Circles…

Nothing in life terrifies me as much as circles. It’s a privileged thing to say, given that much of the world lives in close-range danger. It’s funny, too, given that I am the product of two genocides… one would think that a circle is the safest place to be for someone like me.

Throughout my childhood, every year carried the possibility of absolute change. We could pack up our bags and go at any moment. Amidst this lack of stability and consistency, I would look at my friends and wish for the opportunity to find a circle: somewhere that I would belong, where I could trust that things won’t change so fast.

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On the Pursuit of Happiness…

What makes you happy?

Is it good weather? Time spent with friends? Love? Wealth? A nice house? Travel?

The majority of the world is charging ahead in pursuit of individualistic happiness that we can hardly define. I say “the majority,” because there are still a few cultures out there that seek out the greater good over individualistic happiness. In those places, group survival and success is happiness. Meanwhile, for the rest of us, theories of happiness are typically linked to very personal goals and ideals, and “happy” moments are often celebrated alone.

I’ve been quite dismayed to find myself standing friendless during my hallmark “happy” moments. My family, with its Eastern values, stretched far and wide across the globe to celebrate these moments with me. But my friends, a backyard distance away, didn’t show up when I needed them.

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