Friday, February 09, 2007

Painful hooks

I was driving home from George's 6 month apt. the other day in -1º snowy weather. Not surprisingly, traffic was moving at a snail's pace and so I had plenty of time to listen to this story on NPR. It's about Turkish author, Elif Shafak and her new book, The Bastard of Istanbul. Because of the subject matter in her book she was accused of "public denigration of Turkishness" and was arrested and fortunately later acquitted. In her interview, she talks about the main theme, "the duality of memory and amnesia" and it got me thinking.

She writes about the Turkish genocide of the Armenians in the early 1900's. Apparently, many Turks, even today, deny it even happened. That said, Elif emphasizes the importance of remembering their history (regardless of how bad) and in the interview, discusses her fascination with the "simple fundamental duality of memory and amnesia." As a society, Armenians tend to be past/memory-oriented (not wanting to forget the genocide) and Turks tend to be future-oriented (at the extreme, denying it ever happened). According to Elif, the Turks suffer from a collective amensia. In doing so, they have a loss of continuity of their history.

Alrighty, well that's Turkey and we could talk a lot about that and how the duality applies to the good 'ole selective American memory, but I'm not interested in a political or sociological debate. Although the sociology major in me is intrigued... the interview mostly just left me thinking about my own life.

As individuals, we all experience bad stuff in our lives: mistakes, regret, painful curve balls. It's fact. Life is hard...sometimes really hard. I'm not talking about a glass of milk on your computer or a new radiator in your brand new car. I'm talking about that stuff we don't talk about. The stuff that's too hard to talk about. The stuff that you only tell your closest friends amidst lots of tears. Hard stuff. As an individual, to borrow words from Elif, "If your past is gloomy, is it better to know more about it or is it better to know less about it and let bygones be bygones? Is it better to probe and know more or let the past be just that... the past?"

I tend to want to bury all things painful and bad. I've even gone through my stages of wanting to pretend things never happened. Who wants to think about that stuff? It's hard... and no fun. However, we wouldn't be who we are if only good things happened to us. As crazy as it sounds, hardship makes us better people. In many ways, it inspires us and teaches us what's important. As much as amensia sounds like a cool drink of water (or a handy pill, if you watched Boston Legal night before last) when you're dealing with a painful hook life sends you, experience tells me that you can run, but you can't hide.

With every new day that passes, the hard stuff slowly becomes a part of your past. I say, choose to remember your painful past and turn it into an inspired future.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Sal. It reminds me of that movie that I love and thought y'all would love just as much (turns out you didn't, but that's okay) -- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A Love Story is best told with everything in it -- the good, the bad, the stuff that makes it real and the stuff that keeps it inspiring. And it doesn't have to be just romantic love... just any kind of love and isn't that directly linked to God's love and his love for us? What a life this is . . .