My Favorite Italian


“Friends are your needs met” – Kahlil Gibran

Any friend of Gibran is a friend of mine. All my life I felt truly blessed by having trusting intimate and loving friendships. My friends are the true treasure of my life, after my family. The level of intimacy and the depth of each friendship is unique. While the blessing of these friendships have been the most valuable factors in my emotional healing, I found few who could understand the depth of my inner life experiences.

When I read Gibran’s words about the longing of the soul, I felt there was a “man” on this planet who did understand. I fell in love with his book “The Prophet”. I didn’t think I may actually meet a “man” in my life who would feel and understand the language of the psyche and I did.

I met him through his wife who is a loving friend in the garden of my life. I met her at work and she became a lifetime friend. We frequently had lunch together at work. I thought my husband was the only one who packed lunch for me and now I saw my friend’s husband was making delicious Italian food for her lunch. Somehow, I felt a touch of his soul in the food he prepared. I wanted to meet him.

When I first met him, I felt as if I was meeting an old friend, a warm, positive energy. It is said the eyes are the windows to the soul. I felt his kind brown eyes reflected a beautiful, advanced soul. I felt as if I knew him, like a soul memory. What could it be?

We became good friends. My heart smiled every time I saw him. I felt deeply touched by his warmth, kindness and thoughtfulness. One day, he gave me a book on tapes of the “Prophet”. Bingo,I knew where the soul connection came from. It seemed we had a common soul language. I saw him once in a while. I was eager for my husband to meet him.

Soon, my favorite Italian retired from his job after 28 years of service. He worked tirelessly for such a long time, many times seven days a week with minimum vacations. He devoted his life to provide for his family, wife and five children.

When he had more time he helped our program whenever he could. For instance, we had a Christmas gathering for our clients who had minimum resources for their families. We received toys from operation Santa for children. He volunteered his time to be the clinic’s Santa Claus. He gently greeted each child patiently. We took a Polaroid picture of each child on Santa’s lap and gave them the photo.

When my husband met this couple, he liked them as much as I did. The four of us got together on many occasions. We invited them for Persian dinners. I wondered if he was Persian in another lifetime. He understands the Persian culture from inside out, as if he feels the cultural traditions. I am so proud to say that he is one of the two friends in my life who took Farsi classes. I was speechless. I had many loving friends who wanted to know about the Persian culture, heritage and ask me for a few words in Farsi.  Yet, he got the books, the tapes and each time we met or talked he greeted me in Farsi. I felt this is a friend to treasure for a lifetime.

The Persian New Year is the first day of spring, 21st of March. One year, he called and invited us to the Getty museum for an Iranian concert honoring the New Year.  They drove from Arrowhead, picked us up and took us to the program.

I wonder if you are able to begin to see the beauty of this enlightened being.

Soon my friend retired also, and the couple bought a beautiful cabin in the mountains of Arrowhead. When our children were growing up, we had a few long term friends of thirty plus years. At times we would spend a weekend at each others’ home so our children could play together. We loved “spending the night”, and enjoyed it as much as our children did. I was never able to spend the night at a friend’s house growing up because my father didn’t give permission. For me, I needed to be comfortable with a friend to spend the night at their house. Before I knew, we were spending whole weekend with our  friends. Their beautiful home was like a retreat center. We could sit on the balcony, see the beautiful blue sky, breathe the fresh mountain air, see the tall pine trees, drink tea and talk. We went to their home feeling tired,at times exhausted and came back feeling rested and energized physically, emotionally and spiritually. Over several weekend visits, I learned about the story of the life of my favorite Italian and the process of his becoming.

His father was an Italian immigrant from the region of Calabria who settled in a small town near Wheeling, West Virginia, where most of the men worked in coal mines, railroads and steel mills. It was a tough life of long hours of work. When he was ready to get married, he returned to his home town  and married a young beautiful girl and brought her back to West Virginia, USA. (The marriage was probably arranged by their respective families which was not an unusual custom at that time.)

She did not really know or understand her husband, or anyone else. She did not know a word of English. The husband worked all day and she was a homemaker. Soon, they had four children close in age, three girls and one son. My friend was the last child. There was also a fifth child who was stillborn or who died at birth. No one knows what really happened that resulted in the mother having an emotional nervous breakdown. I can imagine, the young inexperienced woman must have been extremely overwhelmed by parenting responsibilities, having no support in a new environment. She was no longer able to care for the four young children. The father did everything he could hoping that doctors would be able to help her function again. Perhaps, it was too late. The sisters were young children as well and tried to take care of their younger brother to the best of their ability. We don’t like to dig into painful childhood memories. However, on rare occasions, they had shared that he as a young child, at times was not changed all day and sat in his high chair unable to move around.

The father,  in 1937, having no other resources and having to work, took his wife and the children to his home town .The children’s age were seven, six, five and three. The mother needed to be taken care of and the children were left at a convent, raised by nuns of the Franciscan order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The nuns also ran and staffed an elementary school at the convent and this is where the four children and other children of the community received their elementary education. During the day the boys and girls intermingled. At night time they were separated in different dormitories .He was all alone at the mercy of the adults he had never met before.

I have always wondered, what happens that under pressure, stress or trauma, one’s spirit breaks, another ends up becoming an addict, a criminal or in a mental institution. On the other hand, another under the same circumstances goes beyond survival and become a loving and caring human being. Is there a recipe for resiliency, survival and enlightenment?

I was able to share the story of my life after years of therapy and healing. He had no chance for healing from his traumatic childhood experiences. His survival and who he is today is a miracle. I know how difficult it would be for him to share about his childhood memories. Yet we felt each others’ soul language, shared pain even though our actual life experiences were different. Our feeling of abandonment, feeling unloved, neglected and being alone had left similar scars on our souls.

It takes a great deal of courage to face our inner pain and I know he was a brave soul and can do it in time. He did not remember parts of his childhood and what he remembered was scattered. The nuns worked hard to provide for the children. During the World War II, food was scarce and children had little to eat. One school day when the children were being let out to go homes, a ten year old classmate remarked she was famished and as soon as she got home she would get a couple of slices of bread and some salami and cheese and have a feast. He was surprised and almost did not believe her .

He asked “you can go home, open up the cupboard and get something to eat?”

He had never experienced such freedom.

“can you just eat whenever you want?”

The young girl said “sure”.

He didn’t have access to any food, even bread. Everything was locked. He had no memory of “home” ,“family” or being greeted by mom after school with a hug,milk and cookies. I felt tears were coming into my eyes as I imagined the pain in this incredible child.

He witnessed a nun beating up one of his sisters to the ground.She was not wearing any undergarment, she lost control of her bladder and urinated on the pavement. I know that feeling very well.

Once in a while, on a special occasion like Christmas or Easter, the nuns would take the children to visit their mother. They walked for miles to get to their mother’s residence, only to be rejected. Most times she would not even open the door and at times cried out that she did not have any children. She was in her own world, unable to greet or nurture the children. I imagine, they would go back wondering about their mother. How could a young child understand the break of the psyche? It would be too easy and human to believe that she does not love me or care about me. If my own mother does not care, is there something wrong with me? No one loves me. I do not matter. I wonder why I was born. What is the meaning of my life? I am only guessing  early feeling of abandonment may result in such thoughts. It is a possibility to go through life carrying such emotions and thoughts for a lifetime, in the absence of active therapy and healing.

In 1947 when he was thirteen years old, the father brought the children back to West Virginia, leaving the mother in Italy. The father was preoccupied with his work and providing for the family. He was a “stranger” to my friend so to speak. Perhaps, his tough life of survival did not leave any energy or time for expression of warm fuzzy feelings. For a young boy the father is the primary role model to teach him how to become a man in any given culture. Many cultures have ceremonial rituals for the rite of passage. I wonder how my friend, not having been nurtured by his mom, felt when he met this stranger – who was supposed to be his father. I wonder how the father managed providing for his four children. I remember my friend said how much he would have loved to get a class ring when he graduated from high school. How fearful he was, asking his father for the money to buy the ring. The father refused to give him money for the ring .His older sisters who were working then, gave him the money to buy the ring.

The man who was not nurtured by either parents would lovingly invite us to his home, make delicious Italian food, taking us around to show us the beautiful mountains and forests. After dinner, he would read us poetry in Italian. I did not understand a word of Italian, let alone the poetic metaphors, yet I felt it with my heart. When he sat down and lit a candle he nurtured our soul gently and kindly. I cherished every moment of our time with them.

Early in the morning, I would wake up to go to the balcony with a poetry book, depositing loving memories in the bank of my mind. I wanted to fill my lungs with fresh mountain air, look at the majestic trees and read poetry, doing what I would never do in my own home. I would find my friend already up in the balcony. He would generously buy large bags of peanuts to feed the squirrels, huge bags of seed to feed all kinds of birds, the blue jays, the doves and fill the feeder with red nectar for the beautiful hummingbirds. All the animals came to greet this loving human being and thanking him for nurturing them. The squirrels would take peanuts from his hands. They knew this is an enlightened being and will never harm them.

Persians are known for their hospitality, honoring their guests with the best they can offer.  He observes Persian traditions more than any Persian I know. He offered his cabin to us when they were on vacation or away from home. He bought a CD of classical Persian music and played it for us.

He knows Rumi and has several books of his poetry and anyone who enjoys Rumi’s poetry, is a friend.

When human beings meet in the dimension of the soul, there are no differences that can create space between them.

I have a long list of  loving, intimate friends, mostly females, including his wife. The list of my male friends is short, few in quantity and deep in quality and he has a unique place on that list, always. I ask myself, how did he survive such a challenging childhood and how did his spirit evolve? I wonder the love of his wife and the love of his five precious children may have had a major role in his journey. My friend, at age 73 took a three month trip to his homeland Italy with his wife. His mother, the nuns who raised him have all passed away long ago yet the memories of “home” are there. We will always share the language of Rumi and Gibran and the soul connection beyond our physical existences. I trust that as he read these words he would feel how much he is loved, beyond his imagination. He is not only favorite Italian, he is my soul friend.

—- In Farsi Translated by Fred Alavi —-


ایتالیائی محبوب من


هر کسی که خلیل جبران، آن اندیشمند و انسان آزاده را دوست بدارد، دوست من است. من در درازای زندگیم، همواره از موهبت بزرگ داشتن  دوستان شریف، قابل اعتماد و صمیمی برخوردار و شکرگزار بوده ام ، و میدانم که از نیازهای بشر دوست داشتن و  دوست داشته شدن است و باید بگویم که خواسته های من در این زمینه برآورده شده و کم و کاستی نداشته ام. . اگرچه درجه صمیمیت و ژرفای هر دوستی منحصر به فرد است ولی رویهمرفته هرکدام از این دوستیها برایم بسیار ارزشمند بوده و هر کدام به اندازه خود در ترمیم احساسات و شکل گیری شخصیت کنونی من تاثیرات به سزائی داشته و از همه دوستان ارجمندم سپاسگزارم. باید اضافه کنم که شاید تعداد اندکی بوده اند که “من” واقعی و تجربیات درونی ام را بدرستی درک کرده باشند.

هرکسی از ظن خود شد یار من                 از درون من نجست اسرارمن  “رومی”

 زمانی که نوشته های خلیل جبران در باره آرزوهای روحی را میخوانم، احساس میکنم که مردی در این جهان بوده که درک میکرده ، میفهمیده و میدانسته. وقتی کتاب ” پیامبر ” او را خواندم در دام عشقش افتادم ، شاید او از معدود مردان بزرگی بود که در این دنیا زیسته بود . هرگز نمپنداشتم که ممکن باشد انسان دیگری را در زندگی پیدا کنم که به زبان عشق و دل و جان سخن بگوید، ولی “او” را یافتم.

من با آن یار صمیمی از طریق خانمش آشنا شدم که البته آن بانوی بزرگوار هم شایسته داستان دیگری است که به موقع خواهم نوشت. من و آن خانم همکار بودیم و از همان ابتدای آشنائی احساس نزدیکی خاصی در هر دو ما بوجود آمد که هنوز هم ادامه دارد. بیشتر روزها نهار را با هم صرف میکردیم، همیشه تصور میکردم همسرم تنها مردی است که خوراک زنش را تهیه و آماده میکند ولی میدیدم که شوهر دوستم هم غذاهای ایتالیائی خوشمزه و معطری برای او میپزد و راستش میتوانستم طعم عشقی را که از جان پرمهر او تراوش کرده بود در لابلای خوراک ها مزه کنم. احساس میکردم او را در بین خاطرات روحی ام میشناسم، و میخواستم از نزدیک با او آشنا شوم.

وقتی برای اولین بار او را دیدم احساس کردم که دوستی قدیمی را میبینم، آقائی با رفتاری گرم و انرژی مثبت. میگویند چشم ها پنجرهء روانند و من احساس میکردم که چشمان قهوه ای و درشت او به روحی بزرگ تعلق دارند که شخصیت زیبای او را در آینه وجودش به جلوه میاورند.

دوستی ما از آن لحظه آغاز شد. و هر بار او را میدیدم از مشاهده هوشمندی و مهربانی هایش دلم باز میشد و احساس شادی و شکفتگی میکردم. روزی او کتاب گویائی را که بر روی نوارضبط شده بود بمن هدیه  داد. آن کتاب ” پیامبر” نوشته خلیل جبران بود . آنوقت بود که دانستم ارتباط روحی ما از کجا ناشی میشده  و اینکه یک همزبانی معنوی و روانی مشترک داشته ایم که نزدیکی ما را سبب شده است و مشتاق بودم که همسرم با او و همسرش آشنا شود و این فرصت بزودی بدست آمد.

کمی بعد ایتالیائی محبوب و خستگی ناپذیر من بازنشسته شد . او پس از بیست و هشت سال کار بدون وقفه که صرف تامین زندگی همسر و فرزندانش کرده بود میبایست کمی هم به خودش بپردازد و استراحت کند. او بعد از بازنشستگی به کارهای داوطلبانه پرداخت و از جمله در روزهای پیش از کریسمس در کلینیک ما نقش پاپانوئل را بر عهده میگرفت.

 همسرم پس از آشنائی با آن ذوج نازنین، بهمان اندازه من به آنها علاقمند شد و ما چهار نفر در هر فرصتی دور هم گرد آمده و از گفتگوی با هم بهره میبردیم. آنها را برای صرف خوراک های ایرانی به منزلمان دعوت میکردیم و او بزودی فرهنگ و سنت های ما را چنان فراگرفت که گاه می پنداشتم او در زندگی قبلی اش ایرانی بوده! وقتی شنیدم او شروع به رفتن به کلاس آموزش فارسی کرده، زبانم بند آمد. پیش از آن دوستان دیگری داشتم که چند کلمه فارسی یاد گرفته بودند، اما او جدی تر از آن بود، کتاب و نوار آموزش فارسی خرید و کلاس هایش را ادامه میداد.

 چند سال قبل دوستانمان از ما دعوت کردند که  در جشن نوروز که در موزه گتی برگزار میشد شرکت کنیم که با خوشحالی پذیرفتیم. آن شب را با شادی و شادمانی به پایکوبی گذراندیم و هر بار که به فرانک و همسرش نگاه میکردم که فارغ از بود و نبود ، دست در دست و در آغوش هم با آوای موسیقی میرقصیدند درک این مسله برایم دشوار بود که چکونه این مردی که هیچگاه مادری را درکنار خود نداشته و از مهر و محبت او بی بهره بوده میتواند آنگونه سرشار از عشق و دلدادگی زندگی کند و بیشتر کنجکاو شدم که زندگی او و مراحلی را که تا به حال گذرانده تا به اینجا رسیده بدانم.

بزودی همسر فرانک هم بازنشسته شد و آنها در همان نزدیکی  خانهء کوهستانی زیبائی خریدند و گاه پیش میآمد که  من و همسرم دو روز آخر هفته را در منزل آنها  میماندیم و چقدر خوش میگذشت. خانه  گرم و زیبای آنها برای ما مانند مرکز گوشه نشینی و عزلت بود. در بالکن نشسته و در زیر آسمان کبود  در حالیکه به درختان بیشمار کاج مینگریستیم از هوای تازه  کوهستان سرشار از مستی جوانی شده، چای تازه دم و معطر لاهیجان مینوشیدیم و گرم گفتگو میشدیم. ما خسته و فرسوده به آن کلبه کوهستانی میرفتیم و جسماً و روحاً سرحال و با انرژی به خانه خود باز میگشتیم. در طول این دیدارهای آخر هفته، بتدریج با زندگی دوست خوبم آشنا شدم و دریافتم که او چگونه آنی شده است که هست.

پدر او وقتی  شانزده ساله بود از منطقه کالابریا در ایتالیا به شهری در ایالت ویرجینیای غربی مهاجرت میکند، جائیکه بیشتر مردان در معادن ذغال سنگ ، راه آهن و یا صنایع فلزی کار میکردند، یک زندگی سخت با ساعات کار طولانی. وقتی آماده ازدواج میشود، به شهر زادگاهش در ایتالیا باز میگردد و در آنجا با راهنمائی و تائید خانواده اش با دختر جوان و زیبائی پیمان زناشوئی بسته و او را با خود به آمریکا میاورد. تازه عروس جوان نه همسر خود و نه کس دیگری را در سرزمین جدید میشناخته و نه با زبان انگلیسی آشنا بوده. مرد تمام روز را کار میکرده، آنهم کار سخت بدنی، و زن مشغول خانه داری بوده. تا چشم باز میکنند صاحب چهار بچه قد و نیم قد و با فاصله سنی نزدیک میشوند،سه دختر و یک پسر که دوست من آخرین آنها است. اگرچه کسی بدرستی نمیداند چه چیزی باعث ایجاد اختلالات عصبی و احساسی مادر جوان و نگون بخت آنها شد، اما،  شاید بتوان مجسم کرد که زنی تازه سال و بی تجربه در کشوری بیگانه و با مسولیت نگهداری از چهار کودک آنهم دست تنها چگونه از پا می افتد و در هم شکسته میشود. او دیگر توانائی نگهداری از بچه ها را نداشت. پدر، تمام تلاش خود را به کار میبرده و امیدوار بوده که پزشکان بتوانند سلامت از دست رفته آن زن بینوا را بازیابی کنند ولی ظاهراً دیر شده بود و کاری از دست کسی برنمیامد . خواهرهای بزرگتر با وجود خردسالی؛ تمام سعی خود را میکردند که از برادر کوچکتر به بهترین شکل ممکن مواظبت کنند ، ولی خود آنها هم به پرستاری و مراقبت نیازمند بودند. اگر چه کسی میل ندارد خاطرات دردناک کودکی خود را زیر و رو کند، ولی یکبار فرانک تعریف میکرد که خواهرش به او گفته بود که  بارها پیش میامد که مرا با همان کهنه ای که بدورم بسته بودند تمام روز را به ناچاردر صندلی  میگذاشتند بدون اینکه بتوانم از جای خود حرکت کنم.

پدر که دیگر دست رسی به کسی و جائی نداشت و ناچار بود تمام روز را کار کند، همسر و فرزاندانش را برمیدارد  و به شهر زادگاهش کالابریا بازمیگردد. او بچه ها را که سه تا هفت ساله بودند در صومعه و همسرش را که به مراقبت و سرپرستی دائم نیاز داشت در آسایشگاهی میگذارد.

در صومعه، تعدادی خواهران روحانی نگهداری بچه ها را بعهده داشتند و چند کلاس ابتدائی هم برای درس دادن به آنها در آنجا دائربوده که  راهبه ها اداره میکردند. روزها پسر ها و دختر ها باهم بودند و شبها در سالن های جداگانه میخوابیدند و زندگی دوست نازنینم در دست کسانی  بود که پیش از آن، انها را ندیده بود و نمیشناخت . همیشه در اندیشه این بوده ام که چگونه روح و شخصیت گروهی از انسانها در زیر فشار نگرانی و آسیب های روانی در هم میشکند و گرفتار الکل و مواد مخدر شده یا دست به جنایت میزنند و در آخر سر کارشان به زندان و یا آسایشگاه های روانی میافتد و از سوی دیگر بعضی ها تحت همان شرایط  رشد میکنند و  انسانهائی والا ، درست کار و سرشار از عشق و صفا از آب درمیآیند . ایا دستورالعملی برای بهبود پذیری و دست یابی به نور و روشنائی وجود دارد؟ آیا تصادفی است؟ آیا ذاتی است یا اکتسابی؟

من بعنوان یک روانشناس این آگاهی و شانس را داشته ام که زخم های ناشی از صدمات روحی دوران کودکی ام را با مشاوره های گوناگون تا حد زیادی ترمیم دهم ولی شوربختانه دوست خوبم فرانک از این امکان محروم بوده است. با توجه به شناختی که از او دارم میدانم که برایش دشوار است که درباره خاطرات رنج آور کودکی اش با دیگران گفتگو کند، اگرچه مشکلات و تجربیات ما در زندگی متفاوت بوده ولی ما زبان روح یکدیگر را بخوبی درک میکنیم ، چرا که در باره هر دو مان غفلت های بسیاری اعمال شده و  طرد شدن، مورد عشق و محبت نبودن و تنهائی را با تمام وجود احساس کرده ایم و دردها و شکست های روحی مشترک فراوان داشته ایم.

من دردهای درونی او را تشخیص داده ام و میدانم که روبرو شدن با آنها کاری است کارستان که شجاعت زیادی طلب میکند و میدانم که او از آن روحیه برخوردار است و در زمان مناسب این کار را انجام خواهد داد. او به من میگفت که بخش هائی از خاطرات کودکی اش را به یاد ندارد و آنچه دارد پراکنده و درهم و گاهی نامفهوم است و اضافه میکرد که راهبه ها سخت تلاش میکردند که وسائل آرامش بچه ها را فراهم کنند. در زمان جنگ جهانی دوم کمبود مواد غذائی در همه جا به چشم میخورد و بچه ها غذای کافی نداشتند. فرانک میگفت بعضی روزها  بچه ها را برای دیداری کوتاه به منازلشان میفرستادند و یکی از همکلاسی ها بعد از برگشت از منزل برای بقیه تعریف کرده بود که وقتی به خانه رسیده به شدت گرسنه بوده و به سر گنجه آشپزخانه رفته و یک ساندویچ کالباس و نان و پنیر درست کرده و شکمی از عزا درآورده است. دوستم از گفته همکلاسی اش دچار حیرت شده و تقریبا باور نکرده بود که کسی بتواند بمنزل برود و براحتی کابینت را باز کند و هرچه خواست بخورد، آخر او هرگز این آزادی را تجربه نکرده بود و هیچ وقت دسترسی به خوراک نداشته مگر وقتی که کسی چیزی برای خوردن به او میداده است. او هیچ تصوری از خانه و خانواده نداشته است و هیچگاه مادری را بیاد ندارد که در خانه به انتظارش نشسته باشد تا در زمانی که از مدرسه به خانه میرسد در آغوشش بگیرد و با لیوانی شیر و قطعه ای کیک از او استقبال کند. از تجسم دردی که آن کودک معصوم متحمل شده دلم به درد میآید و اشکم جاری میشود. فرانک بمن گفت روزی ناظر بوده که یکی از راهبه ها خواهر او را کتک میزده و آن دختر بی پناه به زمین میافتد و از شدت ترس یا درد خود را خیس میکند، حتی تجسم این صحنه دلخراش هر انسان پاکی را غرق حیرت و اندوه میسازد.

او میگفت بعضی روزهای ویژه مثل کریسمس خواهران مقدس آنها را پای پیاده به دیدار مادرشان میبردند و پس از کیلومتر ها راهپیمائی مادرشان که حال و حواس درستی نداشت از دیداربا آنها خودداری میکرد و آنها ناامید و دلشکسته به پرورشگاه باز میگشتند، بیشتر مواقع مادر حتی در را بر رویشان باز نمیکرد و فریاد میزد که او اصلاً بچه ای ندارد. آن مادر بینوا در دنیا ی خود سیر میکرد و از آنچه در پیرامونش میگذشت بکلی بیخبر بود، کسی چه میداند آنها در موقع برگشت و در سکوت سنگینی که همه شان رعایت میکردند در باره مادرشان چه میاندیشیده اند. چگونه کودکی خردسال میتواند اختلال روحی را درک کند و لاجرم تصور میکرده که مادرم مرا دوست نمیدارد و من میبایستی کاستی های زیادی داشته باشم که حتی مادر هم مرا نمیخواهد. کسی مرا دوست ندارد و حالا که من اهمیتی ندارم اصلاً چرا زاده شدم؟ معنای زندگی من چیست؟  بدون درمان و مشاورات حرفه ای این افکار بیمارگونه که به آن بیگناهان تحمیل شده میتواند تا آخر زندگی در جان و روانشان بماند و آنها را یک عمر بکوبد و آزار دهد.

بالاخره در سال 1947 وقتی او سیزده سال داشت با پدرشان به ورجینیا برگشتند و مادر را در ایتالیا به جای گذاشتند. پدر سخت درگیر کار و تلاش معاش بود و در چشم فرانک به بیگانه ای میماند که وسائل زیست او وخواهرهایش را مهیا میکرد، شاید او با دشواری هائی که برای تامین نیازهای مادی فرزندانش روبرو بود فرصتی برای ایجاد روابط عاطفی با آنانرا نداشت. بیاد دارم که دوستم میگفت وقتی  دبیرستان را تمام میکند خیلی میل داشته انگشتری کلاس را بخرد و وقتی با ترس و لرز از پدر پول میخواهد  او خودداری میکند و خواهر بزرگتر که در آن زمان شغلی داشته پولی به میدهد تا آنرا بخرد. فرانک پس از گذشت شصت سال هنوز آن انگشتری را دارد و بعنوان یادگاری ارزشمند که از خواهر مهربانش بجا مانده چون شئی مقدس نگهداری میکند.

مردی که از سرپرستی و پرورش مادر و پدر محروم بوده و شاید کمترکسی دست  نوازش بر سرش کشیده است، ما را با عشق و محبت به خانه اش میخواند، برایمان خوراک های خوشمزه ایتالیائی درست میکند، به کوه ها و جنگل های زیبای اطراف میبرد و از ما با جان و دل پذیرائی میکند. او به مناسبت شعرهائی به زبان ایتالیائی برای ما میخواند و من بدون دانستن کلمه ای به آن زبان، از شنیدن آنها غرق لذت میشوم چرا که او با زبان جان و شوریدگی گفتار میکند و سخن کز دل براید ، لاجرم بر دل نشیند، من و همسرم آن لحظه های پرشور با آنها را بسیار گرامی میداریم.

صبح زود که در خانه کوهستانی آنها از خواب بر میخیزم به بالکن اطاقمان میروم تا سینه ام را با هوای پاک کوهستان صفا داده و در حالیکه از تماشای درختان سر به فلک کشیده و گلهای خودرو اطراف لذت میبرم، غزلی از حافظ بخوانم، دوستمان فرانک را میبینم که پیش از همه بیدار شده و مشغول پرکردن ظرفهای مخصوص غذای پرندگان وحشی است. او همیشه با سخاوت فراوان انواع  دانه  و خوراک را برای پرندگان وحشی و سنجاب هائی که در همه جا هستند میخرد و در دسترس آنها میگذارد. آن جانوران زیبا برای تشکر از مهمانوازی های آن انسان والا به سویش میایند و سنجاب ها بدون ترس به او نزدیک میشوند و از دستان پر مهر او دانه های بادام زمینی را برچیده به دهان میگذراند، چه منظره دلپذیر و روح نوازی. آنها بطور غریضی پاکی دل و روشنی ذات آن نیک مرد را حس میکنند و میدانند که او به آنها صدمه ای نخواهد زد.


 او به شعر و موسیقی کلاسیک ایرانی عشق میورزد و بخصوص از خواندن و درک غزلیات مولانا جلال الدین بسیار لذت میبرد. زمانی که انسانها در ابعاد روحانی با هم ملاقات میکنند، تفاوت های ظاهری و مادی جائی در آن میان ندارد و نمیتواند فاصله ای بین آنها ایجاد کند.

در زندگی لیست بلند و بالائی از دوستان و یاران نزدیک و صمیمی دارم که بیشتر آنها را خانمها تشکیل میدهند، از جمله همسر او. در این لیست تعداد مردان بسیار اندک است و او براستی در جمع دوستانم جایگاهی ویژه و یگانه دارد. همیشه از خود پرسیده ام که او چگونه توانسته از آن کودکی سخت و طاقت فرسا جان سالم بدر ببرد و تکامل روحی و احساسی اش چگونه شکل گرفته است ،  اگر چه میتوان پنداشت که عشق و دلدادگی همسر محبوبش در چهل و چند سال زندگی زناشوئی و پنج فرزندشان در این سیر و سفر عوامل تعیین کننده بوده اند.

دوست گرامی ام در سن هفتاد و چند سالگی پس از سالها دوری از ایتالیا بهمراه همسرش راهی سفری به آن دیدار هستند. مادرش و راهبه هائی که او را بزرگ کرده بودند همه در خاک آرمیده اند ولی خاطرات “وطن” همیشه پا برجاست. ما در هر فرصتی کلام مولانا و خلیل جبران را میگوئیم و میشنویم و ارتباط روحی مان فراتر و ماورا وجود جسمانی است. ایکاش بداند که وجودش چقدر برایم گرامی است و چه جایگاه رفیعی در قلب و جان من دارد. او تنها ایتالیائی محبوب من نیست، او دوست روح و روان من است.

Happy 38th Birthday Omid Joon


Is it possible for a captive bird to raise an eagle to fly? Could a blind person raise a child to shine like a “SUN”? Can a person afraid of water raise an Olympic swimmer? Would a fearful mother be able to raise a courageous and fearless son? Can a shame based woman raise a son who would break many of the barriers of cultural inhibitions?

It seems impossible…….Omid has gone through deep transformations I couldn’t dream of in my wildest fantasy.

When Omid was born, I experienced a kind of love that I couldn’t imagine and no words can express the depth of the feeling. However, the truth is that I didn’t know even the ABC of effective parenting. I only knew that I wanted to be the most loving parent I could be at the time given my inner and outer resources. I didn’t have any counseling or healing and unaware that all my untreated childhood events would directly impact this precious being.

Some suggest that our soul chooses our gender, place and time of birth, our parents as well as our life lessons. I am still puzzled as how come this advanced soul chose me as his mother and coming to this life in the middle of a revolution. My partner and I had taken seven years after our union to ensure we were prepared for this most sacred responsibility of humanity. We thought we had prepared for everything we could think of except a revolution.

This advanced soul chose to be born in the middle of a historic event in the three thousand years history of Iran. At age one, he witnessed war when Iraq attacked Iran. At night he saw the lights and heard the thunder of anti-aircraft missiles instead of fireworks. By age five he had traveled over three continents. He attended a French school and once he started understanding the language, we moved to Houston. He was the new kid on the block so many times. I am amazed by the way he adjusted to a new country, new culture and new language so smoothly.

I have always thought those who chose the path of creative arts are the shamans of our time. They are the healers of the soul for humanity in the modern times. Omid has chosen the road less traveled. He is a devoted actor living life following his passion, a path we didn’t know anything about. Before he became an actor, I thought actors are such fortunate beings following their passion, in a playful career path, making a good living, being loved by audiences around the world and leaving a legacy behind. Thinking of legendary actors, I thought their movies will be here long after they are gone. They are alive for ever. After he became an actor, I learned about the many challenges of this path, the ones we can guess and the hidden ones. It takes only a highly dedicated and passionate person to even take a step on this path.

He has been my “Guru” since he was born. As an adult, he has been a “mirror” I can trust about any life issue. I can count on his honest, direct, authentic reflection without sugar coating, with love and compassion. Our home is filled with his thoughtful gifts that makes my heart smile on daily basis. My soul must have done something right to have a son like him.

If you wonder if he is a shaman, a healer, a friend to love and cherish for a lifetime, wait until you meet their son, Miracle Miles, a messenger of love.




Ocean of Pearls


“Does this city need a hug?” Jon Stewart asked at the 80th Annual Academy Awards in 2008. Saddened by my lack of interest in most of the movies nominated for “Best Picture,” I was so glad to hear this question. What has happened to the City of Angels, the home of our moviemakers? As long as I can remember, I have loved movies, and until recently, it had been my first choice of entertainment. Yet, I do not remember the last time I went to the movies.

Omid 2.jpg

I love movies that stimulate and provoke thoughts, inspire and soothe my soul, induce awareness of the social issues of the time, raise consciousness of human values, and perhaps make me laugh as well. I love movies that, through their deeper messages, stay with me long after I have left the theater. A movie can touch the hearts and souls of millions of people around the globe. In this way, our moviemakers are one group of society’s shamans, and they often can be healers.
What sells at the box office when I reflect on recent movies, I am reminded easily of gross cruelty, aggression, destruction, murder and bloodshed?
If we enjoy seeing violence for entertainment, what can be said about the human psyche? Is there a covert agenda to numb our souls to violence, to desensitize us to cruelty? Is this a powerful way of promoting wars? As studies strongly suggest, if one believes that they are a member of the good guys, and that designated others are the bad guys, then one is likely to enjoy creating illusionary heroes to eliminate this evil.
Recently, I heard a film critic analyze the Sundance Film Festival. He said that such festivals were meant to sponsor meaningful movies, and not necessarily “what sells.” Sadly, however, he concluded that in recent years, movies selected for festivals are simply second-rate Hollywood movies.
As you may well know, it takes a great deal of talent, expertise, funding, and power to make a movie. How then can a creative, conscientious, and passionate moviemaker bring to the screen an inspiring story when little hope for acknowledgement and a return on investment exists?

Luckily, after a very long time, I happened to come across a movie: Ocean of Pearls that did touch my heart and soul. This movie focused on one of the most important issues of life to me: “Who am I and who would I like to be?” It was about what some humans experience daily; how one defines oneself with every choice one makes in life. How frequently do we stand up for something that we believe in? How frequently do we compromise our values when faced with serious consequences for upholding them? How do we really feel about ourselves inside? When we go to bed, free from a hard day’s work, are we okay with who we are? My guess is that most of us do not feel that way, and don’t know how to become peaceful. Most of us, great pretenders, wish to hide our internal conflicts.
Initially, I heard that this was the very first time a Sikh had directed a movie, a breakthrough for the history of moviemaking, and so I was interested in getting a fresh perspective. I also heard that this was his first movie, and that it was based on his real-life experiences. Also, he was a physician specializing in GI. Now, I was interested. In my book, someone who is willing to share their personal story is likely to be an enlightened being with a great deal of courage. I guessed that he must be a passionate individual if he has managed the demanding responsibilities of being a physician, a family man, and a moviemaker too!—how?
I had the honor of meeting Dr. Sarab Neelam briefly. He said he saw his first movie at the age of seven and he thought to himself afterwards that moviemaking was what he wanted to do. Although he discovered his passion early on, it took him years until he was able to produce and direct his first film. And, this movie is a manifestation of his internal conflicts on an emotional, personal, interpersonal, professional, and eventually, a spiritual level. He shares about the challenges of having been raised in a traditional Sikh community and then working in a prestigious medical establishment, but struggling because he wore a turban; an article of faith in his community. He shares about his love for his fiancée, raised in the same tradition, and of his concurrent attraction to a coworker who loves him exactly as he is, but who also honors his traditions.
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He shares his passion for being of service—a high priority for a Sikh—and working in a medical establishment that cannot and will not provide services to those unable to pay for treatment, even when they have medical insurance. With every choice he makes, he defines himself as a Sikh, a man, a son, a physician, and as a human being.

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This is a movie that is likely to open up a new horizon for the viewer. I honor Dr. Neelam for his courage in making a powerful and meaningful movie in an industry that seems mostly to focus on moneymaking, fame, and greed. This movie gives me hope that there are passionate Angels left.


HAPPY 38th birthday Omid joon