It's 2:57 am and I am awaken from faux sleep with a racing heart and open mind. Excitement overwhelms me as I become conscious of my reality. I’m to the point of tears, happy tears. Gratitude, contentment. How did I arrive here? How did I get so lucky?
My mind is in a trance, captivated by the thought of my beloved grandparents soundly sleeping in their adjacent beds. I imagine myself almost as a ghost hovering over them and kissing their soft cheeks and then proceeding to glide gently through every room of their home. Their home means everything to me, even in the moonlight I feel safe and warm there. Its my safe haven. As I walk a flood of memories play out in front of me. Most of my childhood and adolescence were spent frolicking around in their orchards, collecting rocks, setting forth on adventures, drawing blueprints of elaborate 2 story tree houses that I somehow rationalized as being completely possible for a cluster of 5-8 year olds to build. It is beautiful and full of color, even in the darkness.
In my dream I decide to transport next to my parents’ home. It’s weird to call it “my parent’s home” and I still wonder at what point it stopped belonging to me. I miss it. I think of my angelic mother, strong and resilient and peacefully asleep in her bed. I imagine she had a long and hard days work but probably encountered every moment of it with care and a cheerful joy. She is a saint and incapable of selfishness, it still befuddles me. I am grateful for her rest. She is a princess with the heart of a maiden - beautiful, selfless, and pure. After I kiss her cheek I proceed down the hall to my brother’s room. He’s sleeping there, door shut. I smile because he is stubborn, isolated and tough on the outside but delicate and kind deep down. In fact, for as tough and leader-like as he is I not so secretly think that he still has that big-eyed, noble boy scout heart going on deep down. He doesn’t show that side much anymore but the most important thing is that he’s THERE. He's home and I am grateful for that.
Lastly, I watch as my mind transports my spirit far up north to San Francisco. It’s a city I would have never guessed I'd get to call home. It still doesn’t feel like home, I think of it more as a hub that houses one of my favorite people to ever walk the earth, my Dad. San Francisco is a city so perfect in beauty and balance its hard not to associate with Disneyland. Disneyland mixed with the fourth of July. Just being there makes me feel more American. I see my father is asleep in his bed. I imagine how clean he must be and laugh, needless to say I get all my germaphobic tendencies from him. I miss him dearly and I can almost feel the ache in his heart for how much he misses us. He is my hero, he's my standard for love and grace. Both my parents are.
So again I find myself both in wonderment and relief: how did I get so lucky? How did I fall into so much favor? All these questions circling around in my head for years now seem to be finally and simply answered.
The peace that this dream brings to me is a revelation. I had woken up in a panic from a nap the other day: my heart was racing as I nervously realized that I am a mere few weeks away from my birthday. How did another year come and slip away so quickly? Time is a daunting phenomena that has a way of forcing itself on you the moment you look away. My heart searches for the answer to my ever-present question - how do I seize life and not let it slip away?
That’s why this dream brings me to tears. For the first time I realize that I already arrived. I have everything I hoped for. Life’s complexities are encompassed with a simplicity. Everyday for the rest of my life is merely and wonderfully a gift. It’s a superfluous joy that I get to color in whichever way I choose. It’s always been that way but I am lucky enough to finally realize it. This dream is just truth personified.
I’ve been living in worry and fear while I’ve already had it all. I've already been blessed with overflowing memories of friendship, family, adventure and love. I've already been blessed with my dream apartment, a life of education, and the cherished opportunity to dive headfirst into my passions. I’ve fought for my love of music, self expression and creativity, but I finally realize that if those 3 dreams I’ve built my life around don't work out as careers, I can surrender that too. They were still a gift, a beautiful undeserved blessing, and I am forever grateful.
So why not live the rest of my life as if it really were a gift? For once I realize I should surrender my ideas, my 10 year plans, my hatred of time, my expectations - all of those petty things that build up barriers and dilute the beauty and purpose that God granted us through the simplicity of life.
Why not surrender my imperfect talents? And my numbed heavily guarded heart? I feel proud of myself for choosing the high road as often as I find it, I realize the importance of choices and balance. I feel like all “life” is meant to do is kiss us as we pass through, saying noshi jaan (which is Persian for “to your health!”) on our way out. It was a gift, it is a gift, it will always be a gift. So why not live the rest of my life enjoying that, believing that, and that keeping truth as my foundation?
Here’s to twenty-three, here’s to twenty-four, here’s to life thereafter - forevermore.