Here’s a little something I wrote that didn’t make it into my new book, Geckos & Guns: The Pakistan Years, reflecting on what the years in Pakistan meant to me as a wife and mother and to our family as a whole.
Our family moved to Pakistan in early 1991. This was not a scenario I had visualized when I was younger, but life’s path can take some unexpected turns. The first six months in Islamabad were tough. Our 14-year-old and 16-year-old kids were in a state of resistance, longing to go back to their Canadian home. At the same time, my husband and I were struggling to survive culture shock on a foreign continent when we could have been looking forward to slowing down and retiring to a comfortable suburban neighborhood.
Why did we do it? Officially it was because my husband had secured an excellent job with the United Nations. On an emotional level, it was more about getting out of a rut, shedding old patterns, and rejoicing in new growth and learning. Many of our acquaintances thought we were crazy. Perhaps they were right. Those five years in South Asia were filled with rollercoaster adventures, harrowing encounters, and near-misses.
On the other hand, my time in Pakistan helped me lose illusory fears, compulsions, and hang-ups that had been with me for years. Compelled to face a reality that was unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, our family shed our old skins and forged a permanent bond of trust and reliance. We all worked hard, had a full social life, made wonderful friendships, traveled, and learned, learned, learned.
I allowed the full spectrum to flow through me in that far-away exotic land. There I experienced the dance of life — being and doing, receiving and expressing, destroying and creating, grieving and rejoicing. It was part of my journey to this present place and I will treasure it always.