Being sentimental is a way of life for me. I wish I was less temperamental and could place a significant amount of distance between my mental health and my actual life, but I realize this is never going to happen. While it means I wear my heart on my sleeve, I have finally made my peace with this personal characteristic because it also allows me to be open to the splendor of life.
This past weekend was celebratory in the country. The Armenian national football team beat Bulgaria on home turf, finally breaking a streak of losses at home. Young and old danced in the streets, strangers congratulated one another and the tricolor was draped on everything from people to cars.
Developing complex models and postulating theories, writing academic papers, organizing high-level conferences and advancing policies to address some of the most pressing issues facing the Armenian nation is typically the method we employ. We discuss and analyze, argue incessantly, lose our composure in the melee of verbal and pseudo-intellectual traffic and usually end up nowhere.
When we were little, our parents used to take us fishing in the summer months. Almost every weekend, we would gather our gear, pack the car and drive two hours north of Toronto to a summer resort area we simply knew as cottage country. We usually stayed at some motel, definitely not five-star but when you’re a kid you don’t notice the less-than-stellar rooms or amenities.
Having been on the receiving end of discrimination, I normally refrain from passing judgment on any other country or nation. Sometimes, however, inappropriate decisions and lack of taste leave the door wide open for commentary and scrutiny.
It recently dawned on me that I don’t know how to have fun anymore. Work is about the country. Home is about the country. Dinners out with friends or social gatherings are always about the country. I can’t recall what we used to talk about before moving to “the country.”
Years ago, a friend lamented that I had limited my life choices and career by moving to Armenia. I know now that his intentions came from a place of genuine concern and kindness but at the time I was incensed and immediately went on the defensive.
If the current trend continues, it is estimated that by the end of 2013 almost 100,000 Armenians will have left the country. In a few short months we will learn the final figure of this new wave of mass departure.
The generation that rallied in Liberty Square as the sun was setting on the Soviet Union, ultimately secured the liberation of a small fragment of Historic Armenia. Their resolve and tenacity was transformative for the Armenian nation.
You probably won’t come across many people smiling randomly in Yerevan. It is not the default facial expression in the country. To some it may even be a symptom of or a predisposition to pathological behavior. Others simply may not have much to smile about.