“Can You Believe it?” is a meditation on a weekend the author spent with some friends at a kung fu retreat about twenty-five years ago. Through this personal narrative, the author ruminates on the nature of belief, reviewing how martial arts and religion have had an influence on him and the culture at large.
Living in a civilization that offers no clear rites of passage to adulthood, we are left to craft our own. And this is often less of a craft and more of a crash, a clash with conditions that no longer fit our growing anxiety about who we are. Stranded without a vessel, abandoned on the continental shelf of your future, you are left to deal.
What experiences shape our life trajectories and sense of self? What roles do family heritage, state formation, and linguistic and cultural barriers have in creating a person? Are we just byproducts of events and nature, both outside our control? The following personal essay focuses on the author’s background as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia and makes the case for why we should think of the ‘refugee experience’ as a distinct category from the larger ‘immigrant experience.’ The author argues that because refugees are forcibly displaced from their home countries, they have a unique relationship both to the places from which they had to leave as well as the places in which they ultimately end up.