* 2 min reading

“Against our deepest wishes, we become suddenly, inexplicably, committed to a path we have avoided, a line of thought we’d had no interest in.” – Zachary Lazar

Kalba bron it kalba”, my father said to me many times in Assyrian, when I didn’t do my homework. Often yelling: “You’re a dog son of a dog” was accompanied occasionally with a few random slaps. It was his parenting method of forcing me to read. Verbal and physical insults were normal Iraqi parenting styles. Resulting in me becoming one of the top three students in my Iraqi high school.

Some believe the destiny of a child is influenced by a determined parent. My father wasn’t like Andre Agassi’s father who helped instill a love for tennis in his son. I grew up in the historic but forgotten city of Basra, in Iraq. Wars were the only opportunity given to me as a child. I wasn’t raised in a peaceful country, in a wealthy family, or with parents who exposed their kids to many skills to ignite passion in them.

I was deprived from opportunities in life. Being born in Iraq was my first major setback. I was starving for anything and everything. The curse of ‘missing it all’ gnawed on me.

Living in America opened the door of opportunity for learning and doing. It was an individual renaissance. What I missed in my childhood, America offered – the blessing of ‘having it all’.

I wanted to learn the English, Italian and Greek languages. I wanted to play tennis, chess, piano, and guitar. I wanted to be a programmer. I wanted to finish my master’s degree in computer science, and obtain a black belt in martial art. I still want to own an Internet business, be a photographer, be a body builder, travel, be famous, socialize with friends, go out with lots of beautiful women, have a family, and support my parents…Yes…I want it all.

However, the blessing didn’t allow me to have an insane or total commitment to one single passion. I got confused with so many options suddenly available to me. My true calling was lost. My chances of being a successful singular obsessor, like Walter Isaacson described Bill Gates, were diminished by the distraction of the fairy-tale of having everything.

I didn’t want to sacrifice one option over another, and I had already lost 17 years of my life. I didn’t want to miss anything anymore. It became my ongoing effort to experience one passion after another. My passion is only limited by being afraid of losing out on other opportunities.

This short-lived passion that makes me listen to a single song during my entire hour of workout, is the same passion that makes me want to try many things at lease once in life. I have caught the American disease. It sounds like something only a new drug would cure: take two “Have it all”, and call me in the morning!

It is fascinating to experience diverse interests. I am not sure if I choose my obsession or if it forcefully chooses me. But, thanks to my father who instilled in me my passion for reading, I am near accomplishing my goal of reading 100 books this year.


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