Though not inherently an optimist, I'm prone to think a new year may bring positive change. How do arbitrary thresholds hold such hope? Perhaps it doesn't matter, if indeed we ever get the opportunity to start over, we should grab it. Truth is, I don't know how to believe in beginnings or endings, since I have found little proof for either concept over the course of my little sojourn here. My days are saturated with relentless questions: Why me? Why this place? Why this life? Why now? Why not? I am torn between wanting to be worthy of the gift of this life and wanting to retreat into timeless indifference. I want to abdicate because it's all too hard, too painful, too exhausting. Yet I desperately want to cross the threshold somehow. I want gratefulness and generosity to win. For all of us.
I was reading A Thousand Splendid Suns as I crossed the threshold of 2008 on the east coast of the United States. But I was pulled into another world entirely, even as I lay in the safety of my own bed, knowing that I did not face the brutal terrors of living as a woman in Afghanistan over the past 30 years. Laila, the living protagonist returns to help rebuild Kabul after finding a brief island of safety for herself and her children in Pakistan, because it is the only thing that makes sense, the only thing that can redeem her past. I owe a special debt to Kabul myself, having birthed my son there in 1969, my son who is now a physician living safely with his wife and children in Miami; as Khaled Hosseini, also a physician, lives safely with his family in California.
This morning I awoke to a head soggy from crying and the urge to run towards danger, pulling a few bodies from the flames, getting singed if that is necessary, fleeing with throngs towards mercy, perhaps losing my arrogance in a stream of bitterness. I long to draw close to what redemption I can bear.
I want to be hopeful even when most of the time I can't. I also know that safety is a relative term. For all of us.