I’m a huge fan of essays. The personal essay at its best provides some of the most sincere, heart piercing, most illuminating reading you can experience. This is such an essay.
In just a few sentences of her essay published this week in the Great Read section of the New York Times, Min Jin Lee reminds you of the power of the regular human being who might be your uncle, your dad, your neighbor. The person who had the courage to immigrate alone to a strange new land, wait on tables to make ends meet, then create just enough of a foothold in his life to hoist your entire family to the land of opportunity. For Min Jin Lee this was her Uncle John who passed away earlier this year.
Her words of remembrance brought me back to my own immigrant childhood but somehow my memory was now filled with more dignity and pride. Please read this remarkable essay and treasure the memories of your own past. And maybe call your uncle.
This past year, I’ve spent most of my time in my drafty office in Harlem, where the water leak from the lintel above the south-facing window has reappeared after some bad weather. The elementary school across the street has been closed. I miss the happy laughter of the children. I’ve had some troubling news, and had to gather myself and remember how to solve knotty problems. I turn to my shelves again.-Min Jin Lee