A Pilgrimage

This past year has been a hard year for my relationship, business and finances. It's put a pretty big strain on my personal happiness and blurred what I actually love doing. Working for the past 2 years, 6 days and 1-2 nights a week has made me become pretty un-happy. I didn't really realize this right away...obviously. But it's been an accumulation and after my recent trip back to Turkey it all came out of me like a volcano waiting to erupt.

Being back at the country which I use to hate having to spend my entire summers at, has become a place I constantly yearn for. I even loved my hometown, Adana, which I use to want to leave as soon as I landed. It may be because I've gotten older and now see what my father loved so much about Turkey. 

Yes, obviously age makes you realize a lot about what kind of life you want and where you see yourself in 20 years. But then again who knows what your 40 year old self will want. I just listened to an amazing interview by Krista Tippett with Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist, talk about his long marriage to the same woman and he responds by saying she's not the same woman I married 34 years ago. She's constantly changing, as am I. And I think this is true about life. What you think you want or who you are changes over the course of your lifetime. And at these stages you are faced with some big choices. Which is where I am right now.

I realized I got everything I thought I wanted. A great business which I can call my own, a wonderful boyfriend who is supportive and kind, a great apartment, amazing friends and family, and a wonderful dog.  And the beautiful thing is, I got it- and I manifested it to happen. But once I got to this point I also saw all the flaws with my plan. I was way too young to open my boutique. I didn't think it fully through and didn't realize how tied my hands would be. I also realized my relationship was going through a lot of rough patches, which was a really hard thing to say out loud, and for a long time I suppressed it so It didn't have to be true. And finally I realized I didn't want to be in New York anymore. The place I loved so much and called home...

And back to my recent trip to Turkey I spent many of my nights surrounded by new friends which immediately became close friends over long dinners in the Meyhanne, The Meyhanne is a place where people meet, talk debate, embrace and lament, a sort of bistro created especially for raki drinking"(1) Dinner usually lasts as long as you wish- most of these places only have one round of reservations to allow the customers to eat and talk into the wee hours of the night. The dinners are prepared in several courses. First you have white slabs of cheese, cold mezes (salads, eggplant puree), warm mezes (cheese stuffed pastry's, hummus, shrimp in garlic)  then either meat or fish. And all this is accompanied by the Turkish national drink Raki, which is considered to be the heart of the nation. "An old proverb calls raki the pimp that brings fish and men together for acts of love." (1) The waves of food creates an epic feast, but drinking raki "raises the experience to a truly transcendent level." (1)

And this is true about the Turkish culture and lifestyle. It is much slower which allows deeper conversations and friendships. As I was sitting having this amazing dinner with some of our friends by the sea in a remote island off the coast of Kas, I really felt a strong calling. Maybe it was the raki or the view, but my feelings that night changed the way I felt about my life. And most people that know me say I can by hyper emotional or a seeker of love. For christ's sake I have the Persian word love tattoed on my wrist. But as Paulo Coelho says "Emotions change the world- the most important one is Love. ." (2) And that was the only emotion I needed to feel to realize I had to change my course.

So I have decided to leave everything that I love in New York to move to Turkey on a pilgrimage, not to find myself, but to find a more accurate idea of who I am back home and if I really like that person or not. But as beautiful as this sounds there is a lot of confusion with throwing everything familiar away. As Mark Manson says: "The person you are on a beach in Cuba is not the person you are sitting in the cubicle in the middle of butt ass winter in Chicago. The self is highly adaptable to its external environment, and ironically, the more you change your external environment, the more you lose track of who you actually are, because there’s nothing solid to compare yourself against."(3) But what makes life interesting is the unknown. And I am blessed to have the support of all my friends and family, as well as my boyfriend to fulfill this desire.

Now after the decision is made comes the most challenging part- what the hell am I to do when I land... As of now I bought my ticket to leave in November and to return the beginning of January. I want to work on creating a product line for Su'juk and take some creative styling gigs. But foremost I am looking at it like a pilgrimage to learn about myself, good and bad, and to learn about my country. And I am going to manifest my love and learn to feel and use the four types of love as spoken about in the Greek language: 

Agape- Spiritual love and the true sense of unconditional love

Eros- Physical romantic love

Philia- Mental love regards to friendship- the type of love that gives and takes

Storge- Affection and love exclusively with family

That said to all my friends that I will be missing greatly, I encourage you all to come and visit me in Istanbul which is where I will be starting November! 

Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.
— Paulo Coelho

Foot Notes:

1. Crescent & Star by Stephen Kinzer

2. Paulo Coelho Interview by Krista Tippett, On Being

3. 5 life lessons from 5 years of traveling- Mark Manson

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