Forgiveness is for the brave

Over the past few days, I have been reflecting on some words we often hear but that we seldom stop to analyze, “Forgive but don’t forget.”
How can I forgive someone if I can’t forget the injustice they inflicted on me or my loved ones? If every time I see their face it brings back a nauseating feeling that borders disgust? And let’s say I forgive them. Is it humanly possible to forget the horrible feelings they once put you through? I may have found a partial answer to my questions in the voice of a lady from a country torn apart by war. She bravely stood up there and told the 100 plus people in the room that her son and husband had been killed. But that she forgives their killer. She chooses to rise above it if it means salvaging what’s left of her country. Because her ordeal and sorrow are only one drop in an ocean of blood.
How was she able to rise above such an atrocity? How can she accept that the killer is still able to take breath after breath while her loved ones’ lives were so brutally brought to an end? How can one rise above such a wound and come to terms with such a senseless killing?
She says she did it because her love for her country was greater.
As I was sitting there in the booth and translating her emotionally charged message with a shaky voice and a lump the size of America climbing up my throat, I thought to myself only a woman is capable of such an unfathomable sacrifice, and more precisely a mother. While the audience listened in silence and awe to her words, there were tears, there was admiration, there was even a standing ovation. I witnessed all this. And I could not help but think of that woman for the next few days. What she said haunted me. Her ordeal was beyond words (and the sad fact is that she is one of countless others). I kept repeating in my head what she said and tried to compare it with what I personally had done in my life on the subject of forgiveness. By comparison my “ordeals” in life were a walk in the park, and the injustice I had thought was the worst thing ever seemed like a lame joke. But that’s not the point, because all things in life are relative.
The point is, how in some cases, have I not been able to accept and forget while she could? What did she do that I did not? It took me a few more hours of careful pondering to find what seems like a sensible answer, one that had been in front of my eyes all along but that I’d failed to see: You can’t build a future if you constantly look back at the past. You can look back at the past but don’t let it stand in the way of your future. Look at the big picture rather than the trivial details in the background. Is this big picture worth letting go of all the hatred and all the grudges? It usually always is worth it but we are too distracted by the background noise that we miss the beauty of the bigger picture. Letting go is a daily exercise. I don’t think that lady woke up one day and decided she no longer is in pain. She still is struggling with her pain every day, but she vowed to make peace with it rather than fight it, to accept it rather than deny it. All for the sake of a greater cause.
And I thought to myself, “I knew all along what my greater cause was. What was I waiting for?”…

Interpreting…Why we love it!

If you are one of the few people in the world who love their job, put your hands up in the air!

It takes more than a good pay and favorable working conditions to keep someone happy with their job. To be happy with your job, means to love what you do and to be very good at it.
Early on in their career, young people entering the labor market often opt for a job that brings them a sense of moral and financial security. Further down the road, as they learn, gain experience and grow, they slowly start venturing outside their comfort zone in search of more challenging work opportunities. I believe my career path was not any different. Looking back at those years (at the risk of giving the wrong impression that I’m very old), I realize that it was rarely a smooth ride. But this is not the wailing wall and I am not here to lament or complain.  I’m here to share some thoughts on how fun a job can be when you love it and wake up every day loving it a little more.
So I am an interpreter. Although sometimes I have to explain to people what an interpreter does and what the difference between an interpreter and a translator is, I still believe that being an interpreter is one of the most interesting jobs ever for one thousand and one reasons of which I will mention only a few!
The topics and the people you work with are endlessly diverse. Every conference, every assignment, every work setting is different. Sometimes, you work in a booth, sometimes you follow someone like their shadow to be their eyes and ears in another language. Sometimes you are in no man’s land, sometimes you are in a VIP, heavily guarded government building. You never know what’s coming next, but you  anticipate. You have to be prepared to deal with any unexpected turn of events. One day, you are in a conference on water resources, one day you are discussing rocket science literally. One day you hear a dialect from a country you’ve never heard of before. One day you are live on national TV to cover a major political event, then the next you are working incognito in a God forsaken place where your critical role is to facilitate communication about major decisions to be made.
As an interpreter, you get to travel and see the world. You discover a new place every time. And even if your travels take you to the same places, you end up finding a familiar environment away from home. Without even trying, you start bonding with the places you visit and the people in it. You even make new friends, in the air and on the ground. And the possibilities here are endless (worthy of a separate piece!)
Being an interpreter gives you many privileges. It gives you exposure and boosts your self-confidence. I bet every interpreter during their career has had their own moment(s) of fame, their moment under the spotlight. I know I have, many times. Needless to say it’s rewarding and self-fulfilling.
I could go on forever about why I love this job and the diversity and opportunities it brings. Perhaps the main reason why I love it is because I am good at it. Even when it gets rough, tough and ungrateful as is the case in many other professions, I wake up every morning not wanting to do any other job in the world. And, in my moments of professional glory, I often say to myself, I’m lucky because I love this profession as much as it loves me.
Our job defines us to a large extent. Becoming an interpreter has defined the greatest part of me.