Today I returned a book my supervisor loaned me. Actually, she had to ask me for it, I kept it so long. That is because I read through it twice. Once quickly for the amazing life story of this still very young woman and a second time more slowly for her perception and insights. I may add it to my library. I recommend “The Other Side of the Sky” by Farah Ahmedi
some words of wisdom and insight from Farah
I have seen my dreams crushed, but new ones have sprouted in their place, and some of those dreams have even come true. I have lost loved ones, but not love itself.
(she was talking about her hunger for learning that led to her hurrying to school and stepping on a landmine. While hunger for learning is a good thing, this seems like a good metaphor for much in life)
And that hunger was my downfall, for it made me careless- just for a few minutes, but that’s all it took: a single careless moment.
And this, too is the world. Whatever my story means, this is part of it too. Again and again- even though this world is filled with such indifference and so much random cruelty- at a crucial moment some good person has crossed my path and taken the trouble to care about me.
Meeting Christina was a turning point for me, because I had somebody now. I had somebody. That makes all the difference, you know. Even if your body is whole, your spirit can wilt. You suffer if no one knows you exist.
…the mind is where it has to start.
We weren’t laughing at the time, but we laughed later. You have to take your laughs where you find them. It’s good to laugh when you can.
Actually, we did not know one single thing about our future, except that the road ahead of us brimmed with difficulty, danger, and darkness. In any other circumstance we would have been trembling with anxiety. Yet, in the midst of this terrible time, we exuded exuberance. And why? Because we had reached this spot. The future lay in God’s hands, but we had reached this spot. It’s a good thing that a person can pause at times and take pleasure in difficulties overcome, because if we had spared one droplet of thought on our future, that thought would have stripped us of joy and drenched us with dread. Instead, for a moment there, one memorable moment, we tasted unmitigated happiness.
Everything becomes normal if it just keeps going long enough.
When you see some possibility of getting out of a pit, you can draw strength from the idea of where you will be once you get out: You see a goal worth fighting for. If the best you can hope for is to sink more slowly, struggle comes to feel pointless. You say to yourself, If I’m going to sink anyway, what does it matter whether I sink quickly or slowly? You lose your drive.
And with that surrender, a change began. I felt it in that moment. I felt it ever increasingly in the days that followed. What was this change? My attention turned toward God. And the more I attended to God, the more I discovered how to be patient and tolerant and how to relax. When that girl snapped her orders at me, I let it wash away, I let it go, I absorbed none of her spite and hatred, and so she failed to plant any seeds of bitterness inside me. Negativity stopped sprouting in my heart. I grew so calm, so serene that even the girl who was bossing me around noticed the change and eased up on me.
Strangely enough, whenever I was absorbed in solitary pryer, I felt I had company. I felt somebody’s presence and tenderness embracing me.
No sooner had I posed such questions in my heart than I felt a warmth glowing and growing form the middle of me, and I knew that God was listening to me, that God was nearby, very close indeed, an invisible light, a bodiless friend, a smiling power. I had such a strong and positive feeling about God being there.
And I still feel how important it is to pay attention to God, to recognize God, to believe in God, to live with a pure heart and let only purity and truth come pouring from one’s soul: That’s the way to live. Such is my belief.
You are trapped inside your language like a rabbit in a cage.
Everybody enjoys reading an adventure story or seeing an adventure movie, but a real-life adventure is harder to enjoy because you don’t know how it will turn out.
Page 207 – after visiting a museum and learning about dinosaurs
It makes you think about the world and what lasts and what doesn’t.
As they say in Afghanistan, when someone extends their hand, don’t climb on their shoulder.
I want to know about her religion, just as she wants to know about mine, We can talk about our beliefs without pushing each other to feel wrong. This is one reason why I love her so much.
“Why has America done so well?”
In our American history class I read that when people came here from so many places, they came with ambition, they came to start over, and they worked hard. That’s probably part of it. Also, they were able to raise their voices here. They were able to express themselves and search for their own beliefs and say what they believed out loud. I think that is why America has developed so remarkably. Here, people can live their lives without fear. In places like Afghanistan, by contrast, everybody is afraid. Nobody dares to raise his voice. I thin America has grown strong because it lets everyone take a part.
Over in Pakistan and Afghanistan and places like that, it isn’t just the government that holds society back. People are afraid of their neighbors, of what “others will say.” People hold one another in check. Here, you can try something new. If you invent something, people will congratulate you and take an interest in your invention. There, they will say, “Why did you invent this thing? We don’t’ want something different! What was wrong with with what we had before?” Here, you can announce your opinion, and if you’re against something you can say so and it becomes part of the discussion, not a reason why you have to go into hiding.
I know it’s hard for American students to reach out to us refugees, and maybe you worry about being rejected or put on the spot. But here is one thing I want to say in this book: It’s harder for us to reach out to you-we, with our clumsy English. I want to say, Don’t be afraid of us-you have to understand: We’re afraid of you. We want to be friends, but you have to take the first step.
Some of the improvements are just details, but details add up. In the end , details make a life.
Now I don’t want to erase, or forget, or destroy any part of myself. I want to love myself and keep adding to who I am.