The Ability to Accept the Mess

Jhumpa Lahiri from "Jhumpa Lahiri's Struggle To Feel American," Morning Edition, NPR (11.25.08):

Jhumpa Lahiri I think that what has happened over the years that I've been writing is that with each new story or book, I do feel that I'm able to confront the truth of my life with a little more honesty.

I think that a lot of my upbringing was a lot about denying and hiding and evading and fretting and wanting to make everything fit and make everything easy and wanting to pretend that I wasn't this person or that person or wishing that I were otherwise. Wishing that I looked another way, that I had a different name, and wishing my parents weren't torn between two parts of the globe. And all of that stuff, all of that mess of life, of my life, of my upbringing that I for so long just wanted to put into a box and make it still and make it not what it was. To deny my life in some fundamental way. To pretend that it was something else.

I think that in the years that I've been writing, it has helped me to look the truth in the eye a little bit better each time. And I think that has helped me as a person, the ability to accept the mess, to accept and to understand that I will never be able to fit it into a box. That it will never sit still. That my parents will always be tied to two different parts of the earth and that that is a difficult experience. That is a painful experience. It can be a very enriching experience as well. I think it has been liberating and brought me some peace to just confront that truth, if not to be able to solve it or answer it.