Persepolis and My Awkward Aikido Class in Ischia

1795069_origMarjane Satrapi grew up in Tehran and enjoyed the simple pleasures of life during the 70s: friends, music, Nike shoes…then the Iranian Revolution took place.

Persepolis is Satrapi’s account of the radical changes she experienced as an adolescent, and the roads she traveled looking for a place to belong. The animated film is not only an excellent history lesson, but an honest and self-aware commentary by Satrapi on the painful moments of her life.

The images and drawings of Persepolis are presented in such a fresh and organic way. The dark moments linger long enough to let one process the pain of Satrapi, but quickly transition to light-hearted scenes full of self-deprecating humor.


Marjane Satrapi

Last year, I was invited to an Aikido class by my WWOOF host in Ischia, an island twenty miles outside Naples, Italy. I arrived a few minutes late, and the group was already stretching and meditating. I felt like Chris Farley in that SNL Japanese game show skit.

The leader gave me the silent nod, and I attempted to understand what the heck was going on since the others were in a deep, deep meditation. So there I am, following the motions of the leader, unaware of what I had gotten myself into.

All of a sudden fists were being shaken with fury, and I watched in amazement for a few moments until I got my fist-shakin’ on as well (everybody else was doing it). The leader stopped and we sat in silence. It was then that I understood the point of the exercise. The fists of fury represented the noise of the outside world.

Persepolis reminded me of the Aikido experience. The world around Marjane was shaking violently, and she was seeking understanding, clarity and peace of mind.


What I love about a film like Persepolis is that it lingers in your mind long after the final credits. What are the external forces that impact our decision-making? Do we understand the effects on our personal ambitions and happiness? It’s a film about learning from the past, recognizing mistakes and processing it all…but perhaps most importantly – what’s next and how do I get there?

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