I was intimidated to start my Meet the Faces project again. Not sure why. (To see past Meet the Faces posts, click here and here.) I’ve always loved the conversations that the project has led to and I knew it’d be a great way to be intentional in a new city to meet new people. I love the diversity of people, culture, backgrounds, and stories found in Seattle. Today – meet Allen. An Iranian man who loves remodeling houses, has a passion for the violin, and loves to talk about life.
Yesterday, I took a stroll down Juanita Bay with my camera in hand – debating if I was going to ask a stranger if I can take their photo and learn a bit about them. The sun was shining brightly, and this older gentleman approached me and asked, “How can you take a photo against the sun? Isn’t it too bright?” So I began talking with him a bit about photography and so this beautiful conversation began.
Allen has been living in Seattle for more than a decade but is originally from Tehran, Iran. After learning about his family and his interests, I asked him, What advice would you give someone who recently moved to Seattle?
He paused for a moment and replied…
“Here in Seattle – people often complain that it rains too much. But when I lived in California – people complained that they missed the changes in the seasons and weather. In Arizona – where my daughter lives – people complain that it’s too hot. For many people – they wake up, go to work indoors – unaffected by the rain or the heat – they go home, eat dinner with their families and go to sleep. Many of those people don’t live – truly live and explore the city they live in for the weather to affect them. So I guess, what I’m trying to say is – we need to stop complaining and to be positive – we need to take advantage of the places we live and actively look for the beauty around us – then take advantage of it.
A good example of this – is when I went home to Iran 20 year ago. I got off the airplane…and what I saw made me so sad. It was during the years of the revolution – and I became angry and sad. I began to think, ‘The US is better than Iran for this reason and that.’ Then after being there for 24 hours – I noticed my negative thinking. We cannot compare the U.S. and Iran. They are two different countries and two different cultures. We have a saying in Iran – where if you want to say something negative, ‘go talk to your hat.’ Don’t pollute others with your negativity. For the rest of my trip in Iran, I began appreciating and seeing the beauty within my country – even within the difficult times. So my advice to someone moving to Seattle…or anywhere – is to be positive and to seek out the beauty in the place you are.”
So what are your thoughts about Martin Luther King Jr. and this day that we take to remember him?
“Do you have another five minutes?” gesturing to the bench by the water. We sat down and Allen began to tell me about leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr..
“Nelson Mandela…was one of a kind. He chose to love and forgive, even after all he had endured. There are two kinds of leaders in this world…one who chooses to hate and take revenge and a leader who chooses to love and forgive. Martin Luther King Jr. chose to be a leader who loved. He had struggled. But his struggle was not approached with violence. He had a reason to hate, but he chose to be a good leader. I am glad we take today to remember such a man.”