Lima Al-Azzeh

You can’t lament what never will be …

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2012 at 11:36 pm

A photo of my father and my mother on their wedding day.

My sister and I developed very different philosophies on life and the concept of “the future” after my father’s passing. A fairly obvious statement, surely. Everyone processes these game changers differently, but it seems my sister and I went in completely opposite directions.

If you’re to ask her where she sees herself in five years, she’ll tell you exactly what the picture looks like: where it takes place, who’s in it, who she will be and all the pieces in place around her. She holds this vision in her head and, rest assured, will spend the next five years of her life making decisions with this dream in mind. She’s adaptable yes, she’ll take on changes as they come, but will always swing these unexpected events back in line with her vision.

If you ask me where I see myself in five years, I’ll give you a fairly vague answer. I can tell you how I want to feel about myself, how I want to feel about my life thus far, and maybe a little about who I’m hoping will still be close to me. It’s not to say I’m less ambitious than my sister, or that my outlook on life is much less considered. I think that ultimately, all I can ever know are the changes I can affect in myself. I’ve learned early on that there’s little you can do to change your circumstances, you just have to try to be a strong enough person, a self assured enough person, to ensure that whatever your circumstances, the changes they reap, will never ultimately defy you or your spirit.

Tonight, I remembered a very specific conversation I had with my sister about our idea of the future. We stayed up late together one night chatting in the two-bedroom apartment we lived in with my mother in West Vancouver, my sister was around 14 or 15 at the time and I was around 12. My mother was sound asleep in her empty bed that my sister shared with her. Throughout our youth, one of us always had to share a room with our mother – so she wouldn’t sleep alone. If you had told us this was the picture we should expect “in five years from now”, with us living in Vancouver, in an apartment, without our dad, our friends or any of our familiar surroundings, we would have surely laughed, even scoffed.

My sister, who held a much stronger attachment to her friends back home being 14 and having felt she was ripped away from her vision of her joyful future surrounded by life long friends, turned to me and asked the simplest question: “Do you ever wonder where we would be right now if dad had never died?” My response came quickly and without hesitation, “No, not at all. What’s the point? None of that stuff will happen now, so I just don’t ever think about it. It’s just never going to be.”

In hindsight, I realize that I was a total buzz kill on my sister’s trip down nostalgia lane (or can it really be called nostalgia if you’re concocting memories of a future that will never come to fruition?), but that’s truly how I felt. I remember even being slightly confused by my sister’s question, pontificating on the “what if” question seemed like such a total waste of time.

I’d almost forgotten how much I believed in what my 12-year-old self had so confidently declared all those years ago, until tonight when, in a casual conversation with some friends, one of whom happened to have very recently experienced a mighty game changer herself, noted that she needs to get over her grief right now, because you can’t hold on to memories that will never happen. That future just isn’t the future anymore.

I was a little stunned, and stumped, by her clarity and equally stupefied by this show of incredible strength. I was so dumbfounded that I completely failed to articulately empathize with what she said. All I could manage to mumble was, “Whatever you do, hold on to that”, because somehow since that conversation with my sister, I seemed to have forgotten about that myself.

So, here’s something I do know about the next five years: I have no idea where I’ll be living. I have no idea if I’ll be working the same job or at the same company. I have no idea if I’ll be in a relationship or have children. I have no idea where my friends and family will be. And while I hope the best of all these situations, I cannot possibly foresee the future. All I can be absolutely certain of, is that I won’t be making any decisions based on fear that I won’t attain some pre-fabricated vision I’ve set out in my head. The future will change as it will, and the only thing I want is to remain resolutely happy ,whether it’s with or despite my circumstances.

I’m going to do my very best to hold on to that.

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  1. Wow that really hit home. It’s great to see what an incredible writer you’ve become after those years we spent comparing books we loved to read. Keep it up Lima. You def have a fan in me.

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