Respect Given

You haven’t gotten enough respect. At least not from me. At least not until now.

I have rather enjoyed this simplified quarantine life. I play guitar, read, write, cook, go on long walks, and work out. While it’s true I am an extreme extrovert, no part of me has been longing for human interaction.

On weekends, I break the routine a bit and watch a movie or two. I’m not one who often opts into “classics,” but the fact that I had never seen The Godfather seemed like an oversight worth correcting. And so I did. The film and its sequel were most notable not for their celebrated cinematic landmarks, but because they made me think of you.

I, like any high school graduate, “studied” history. I, like any member of any family, heard stories of what had to happen for me to be comfortable. So I know the tales of the immigrant life, the poor life, the making-something-better-of-my-life life and how you embody all of them. Still, I never really felt the meaning or achievement of it all. Perhaps this is an inevitable failing of trying to understand anything that is so distant from one’s own existence.

Or maybe it’s not inevitable, after all. For as I watched those films, I grasped quite a bit more of your life (I think). It must make you laugh all these people in 2020 talking about hardship. It makes me laugh too. Somehow there is currently cachet associated with explaining all the reasons, legitimate or otherwise, why one’s life is less than expected. Now, if this was a self-reflective act, sure, it might be valuable, especially if it spurred proper action going forward. But that’s, of course, not the variety we see here. Oh no. We are witnessing a constant bickering about that which one cannot control and that which, let’s be honest, ain’t that big of a barrier at all. Certainly not compared to your life.

That’s what I kept pondering as I ventured through those 380 minutes of film (specifically the minutes devoted to the family first coming to America). To build something from nothing just meant more in your context; I’ll never be able to replicate the accomplishment because my starting position, thanks in part to you, was just too great. This is how societal growth happens: someone persists through incredible discomfort and uncertainty so the next generation is better off. Even if that wasn’t the motivation, it is the end result, and it’s one of many reasons why your pursuit was so noble.

So, thank you, and I hope you are doing well.