Solacers: a memoir by Arion Golmakami
I really loved this book! Golmakami voice brings a captivating depth to his early life’s journey.
It is written with courage, honesty, love, and hope. The boy’s life story is unnervingly entrancing and depressing while also being dramatically fascinating due to his resolve to keep on keeping on. This memoir tells the story of an Iranian boy who becomes an abandoned child as a preschooler. This makes him an orphan. It is complicated because both of his parents are alive and have families they are raising, yet he is not a part of either of their families. Conditions get arranged from time to time to attempt to have him housed, yet he is absolutely abandoned emotionally, physically and financially.
You will want to read this book because this little boy is resourceful, observant and loving – even with the isolation and hardship he is facing. He is a boy with dreams: Dreams that most anyone would discount as impossibly unreasonable. Those dreams and some good fortune allowed him to survive. Yes, survive, there were many real threats to him that could have led to his end.
As you read, be prepared for hardship, disaster, pain, desperation and unfulfilled promise. And be willing to envelop yourself in this young boy’s journey. This memoir will allow you to witness an unimaginable passage through childhood. This child’s resilience is tangible.
It was a finalist for Best Nonfiction-Stanford University Libraries- William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in 2012. Golmakami published this memoir when he was 55 years old and it covers his early years through his 17 year.
Here quotes that I found powerful and want to share.
The author writes: “Why couldn’t I have a home like his (referring to his father) children and my mother’s children?”
“While I never stopped longing for a place to call home, after two years of wondering from place to place, I had come to accept my circumstances and it didn’t matter where I was being taken anymore. At that age (7 years old) I was like water that had been spilled from a fallen pitcher into the ground; all I could do was follow the gravity and hope for a depth large enough to hold me for a while, until such a time that I could grow into a stream of my own and carve my own path through life.”
His is a story of compassionate understanding and with his intentional will to survive. He writes: “There is a unique pleasure found in forgiveness that can never be found in revenge.”
As a ten-year-old, on his own he explains: “Loneliness, constant hunger, and boredom made every hour of every day weigh a thousand tons.” “Only ten years old and without any money or permanent address to go to, I led the life of an alley cat.” Because of my pride, “I never begged for anything, refused to touch anyone’s food, and asked no one for help.”
Golmakami writes: “I believe those who have spiritually evolved – and by that I do not mean religiously – perceive the world and everyone in it as ‘us,’ as did Momon Bozorg, while the unenlightened souls view the world as ‘me’ and ‘not me,’ while in Momon Bozorg’s spiritually driven view, we were all water of the same ocean separated only by a physical bottle called body.”
Exploring with others through sincere and effective inquiry combined with deep listening for understanding are great tools to develop for working well with others. Often small or large groups of people are faced with working through what seem like insurmountable challenges.
How we ‘show up’ matters: It is worth considering that reframing the situation into many possibilities and opportunities rather than insurmountable challenges is a potentially more proactive platform to be working from.
I do believe that we are in charge of our own perspectives and that any group of people is in charge of their own perspectives. And that our perspectives influence how we navigate opportunity or, as some may see it – insurmountable challenges.
Further, I believe that the questions we ask can be powerful in setting a ‘frame’ for our thinking and actions. Great questions are valuable for the person who asks them – if that person is ready to listen deeply and consider what is shared. Great questions are valuable to those who take them seriously by pondering and responding to them.
Michael J. Marquardt puts it this way: “Great questions cause the questioner to become more aware of the need for change and to be more open and willing to change. The questions themselves may actually cause the leader to become a change catalyst. The leader who leads with questions will more likely champion new ideas heard and developed in the course of inquiry. New ideas and perspectives enable the leader to make strong arguments for advocating change.” Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask, Revised and Updated, 2014, pages 42-43.
Marquardt also states that: “A questioning culture strengthens individual and organizational learning; it improves decision making, problem solving, and teamwork; promotes adaptability and acceptance of change; and helps empower people by strengthening self-awareness and self-confidence.” page 6
These are the kinds of questions that may have the power to help a leader or participant of a group to deepen and improve the culture and quality of thinking and work:
If you were to overhear an honest conversation about this intuitive 30 months from now – what would your highest hopes be for what you would hear? What do you believe you would actually hear, given the current trajectory of the project?
How would describe the way you want this project to turn out?
What resources might we tap into that we haven’t used before or not using currently?
What crucial or vital behaviors can we target that seem to provide the greatest leverage for dramatically advance our goal?
How can this team become more efficient and productive while also supporting its members in the pursuit?
What inspires us about this work?
What happens if . . .?
Have we ever thought of . . .? (This question and the two directly preceding it – may be good ones to go around the group and have everyone add in their ‘. . .’ and then go around again and possibly again to generate new and potentially provocative thinking)
For any of these or other such questions to have value a culture of open shared thinking must be supported and the questions must be asked with sincerity and listened to with a commitment to strive to understand and appreciate the perspective(s) being shared.
Yes, there are all kinds of challenges and problems we can invest our time attempting to solve. Some see themselves as ‘problem solvers’. Earlier in my career, I saw myself as a relatively good ‘problem solver’.
Today, I can still ‘solve problems’. More often now, I choose to frame the situations I encounter through an appreciative frame. I do this because I have come to know that ‘problem solving’ is linear, and thus somewhat limited, in nature. Approaching this same situation through a frame of Appreciative Inquiry will lead to a potentially difference and, in my mind, richer response.
To frame a situation (what some might call a problem) appreciatively can be seen as taking four steps.
First, think seriously about the situation and focus on what is right about the situation. Collect all of these thoughts about what is positive about the circumstance.
The second step is to dream big about the desired state that could be in the future given that fact that you are starting from the current situation. Really stretch your thinking – dreams are not small incremental next steps – dreams are bold! Dreams are compelling possibilities! Dreams excite people to invest in making them real!
Then get focused on designing plans to move toward making the dream a reality. The plans may, and likely will, be at the ‘first step’ or ‘second step’ level – obviously, those steps are important and worth taking – knowing that their may be a ‘sixteenth’ or ‘twenty sixth’ step to move toward and reach the desired goal. Let the ‘journey’ towards the goals begin!!!
And, then, as steps are taken toward the goal it is important to be willing to adjust and improvise along the journey. Destiny is achieved when we listen to our inner voices and respond.
Appreciative Inquiry can be practiced by individuals or by groups. The interdependent thinking that develops when group’s embrace this process is empowering. It is very exciting to be going through the appreciating, dreaming, designing and moving toward the collective destiny with others!
Appreciative Inquiry is a positive approach to framing ‘what is’ and ‘what might be’. And it remains positive in the design, implementation and adjustment of the plan to reach the dream.