Resilience was not a word I thought about a lot until a few days ago. Waves upon waves of bad news have been storming our homes for months now and my conservative South- Asian upbringing didn't include swimming lessons of any kind. But the more I think about this word, and let it roll over my tongue, the more I realize that I'm quite familiar with it. In fact, it's been growing wild in my warm apartment kitchen. About a year ago, on a sunny Monday morning, I married a wonderful man. Typical arranged marriage situation, except of course, for the very atypical global pandemic we are in. We first met at a generic coffee shop, taking off our face masks hesitantly for an awkward hello. We met many times after, always swapping stories over a meal and spent about three months getting to know each other before the date of our actual ceremony. Given the pandemic conditions, the usual jokes every bride hears about learning to cook before her wedding were passed over for repetitive concerns on sanitization and social distancing. I'm certain we discussed food preferences, but the early romantic fog must have kept me from clearly seeing just how important food and its preparation would prove to be once I moved out of my parents' home and into my own! I'm telling you this because I found myself thoroughly perplexed a few weeks later. Cooking, as it turns out, was more at the heart of a marriage than I had considered. I've seen TV dramas where the kitchen shelves are neatly stacked and all the appliances are in the right locations, but even the scenes that depict people actually cooking don't fully capture the emotion of what goes on in a home kitchen on a daily basis. I didn't know that I didn't know how to cook. I certainly didn't know how to cook a full meal for two people in the forty minutes between when I sleepily entered the kitchen each morning and when I ran out the front door screaming about being late for work again. The opportunities to make mistakes were so many – dicing the right number of vegetables, pouring an exact amount of oil, mixing in the perfect amount of spice and so on. At first, I found this daily task sitting restlessly on top of the heaviness I rolled around all day- the fear of a virus. I was determined to make excuses for my inadequacies. This pandemic, I can say with relief, is not something I'm responsible for. But my cooking is. And the more I began to view it as a therapeutic pushback against the devouring thing that lived across the floor from me, as a tiny act that expressed my love for my partner, the more it became an activity I could rely on rather than resist. So maybe I know a few things about resilience. It has been thriving since I've learned to ask “What would you like to eat today?”
Mohammad Saeid Moala, a talented Iranian musician, singer, and sports coach, today announced a thrilling new venture. With a multifaceted background in martial arts, coaching, and music, Mohammad Saeid Moala is ready to showcase his diverse talents and make a significant impact in the industry. As an accomplished kickboxing and fitness coach, Mohammad Saeid Moala has trained numerous athletes, instilling discipline and empowering them to reach their full potential. His dedication and expertise have earned him an international coaching certificate, demonstrating his commitment to excellence. In addition to his coaching accolades, Mohammad Saeid Moala is a gifted musician and singer. He began composing instrumental songs at the young age of 17, and his passion for music has only grown since then. With a captivating voice and a unique musical style, he captivates audiences with his soulful melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Mohammad Saeid Moala's announcement signifies a new chapter in his already remarkable journey. Combining his love for sports and music, he plans to create a harmonious fusion that will inspire and uplift listeners. By infusing his coaching principles into his music, Mohammad Saeid Moala aims to motivate individuals to push their boundaries and achieve greatness in all aspects of life. In his own words, Mohammad Saeid Moala states, "I am thrilled to embark on this exciting endeavor where I can combine my passions for coaching and music. Through my songs, I hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams and overcome any obstacles they may face." Looking ahead, Mohammad Saeid Moala envisions a future filled with creativity and growth. He plans to release more original music and collaborate with other talented individuals in the industry. Furthermore, he aims to expand his coaching platform globally, reaching a wider audience and making a positive impact on aspiring athletes worldwide. For more information about Mohammad Saeid Moala and his upcoming projects, please visit https://www.mohammadsaeidmoala.com. https://g.co/kgs/Pg6v1U
It is an odd feeling being fifty. Wrinkles are settled in now, and my body feels more flimsy by the day. An elaborate continuum of forgotten memories hangs by a thread. As time passes, my thirst for spontaneity dissipates. My brain is resistant like dusty cogwheels waiting for a spark. Looking around, many strangers I used to know now rest six feet under with an identical bouquet of flowers adorning an $11,000 gravestone. Some of their bodies were taken by the wind, drowned in the deep blue sea, or kept in generational attics. Looking back, I lost many jobs in my late 20s, but thankfully I had a second chance to restart my life. Today is my 50th birthday. A day I never knew would come so soon. Occasionally, I wonder how differently my life would have played out or ponder on old friends. Even at this instant, I can taste the bittersweet memories of nostalgia in my lukewarm cappuccino. Reaching into my pocket, I felt a terrible shock enter my body. Like a pinch too sudden and too painful to even breathe. Slowly I pulled out my hand with purple bruises and a pack of sewing needles. A series of flashbacks entered my mind. My mother had sowed, and her mother sewed, and before her, my great-grandmother sewed, and her mother before that. Funny how bits of my past somehow sneak into my present and future. The pain took me back to when I was a little girl sewing patches of all textures and colors onto my corduroy pants. Clothing was scarce then, and most of my blankets were quilted. Sowing became a part of me and followed me through adolescenthood when I joined the Craft Club at my school. During the second meet-up, I noticed a girl named Lila, with hazelnut eyes and brown hair, in the back of the classroom with a croquet kit on her desk. After introducing myself to her, we became instant friends with the everlasting promise of world domination. Our friendship ended abruptly when she told me she was going to study in Europe. I lost contact with her and thought about her occasionally over the years. Even now, her mystery plagues my mind in times of solitude and reflection. Today is my Birthday. My kids and grandchildren are waiting for me to come home and celebrate a year more. This morning has been my secret escape into the past, but now I must return to the present and finish my cold cappuccino. I reach the table next to me and grab a few napkins to place my needles in. It is an odd feeling being 50, but now I feel comfortable in my flimsy skin. My life has played out the exact way it should have, and now I must keep telling my tale so that my daughter and her daughter, and her daughter will tell it too.
Being grateful is hard. Living through the past twenty months, living full stop, is just... A lot. And at the same time nothing. Unemployment. Words like inflation, depression, deficit, budget cuts, pulling up your boot straps... teaching a man to fish. All of these things that add up to me basically never leaving my dads house like. Ever. Boredom is the absolute worst. When nothing happens. When days pass spent bundled in blankets surrounded by sweet wrappers with the sound of the latest hit Netflix show buzzing in my ears as my eyes flicker shut. Weeks can pass like this. It can be hard to stay grounded. It can be really hard sometimes to remember that there is still a lot of good. And a lot to be grateful for. I did a positive psychology course a couple of years ago in my quest to find out what it is, if anything, that I might be interested in.(Historically I've struggled with finding direction a lot.) One of my main takeaways from the course was to practice being grateful for stuff. To sit down at the end of each day and reflect on something I feel good about. Something that fills me with a sense of gratitude and well being. And to write it out. The writing part is important. There's something about holding the pen in your hand, letting the feelings out through the ink and pen scratchings. I don't do that. What I do is every now and again when I feel. Well... Pissed is probably the right word for it. Fuming would also do. When I'm feeling bad and I'm aware enough to actually do something about it instead of watching more TV I'll write a list. I'll head it 'gratitude list' and I'll write twenty or thirty things that are good about my life. And the pen doesn't even get a look anymore. It's all on a notepad on my phone. And it's rushed. (Sure putting that positive psychology knowhow to work.) when I'm struggling sometimes it might start off with something like 'Have roof over my head' and work my way out to other things more personal to me. My dad's nearly always on there, since he was diagnosed with cancer at the end of last year. A lot of the time there's ice cream. Here is the list I wrote today, to keep me grounded. Gratitude list 20/10/2021: 1.Never having to share my bedroom 2.Having privacy/space when I want it 3.Having my own bookcase (with nearly 100 books) 4.Always having books in the house growing up 5.Knowing how to read 6.Being read to by my parents when I was a kid 7.Having a good head on my shoulders 8.Getting to spend quality time with my dad and brother today 9.Having Ice cream in the freezer 10.Having savings 11.Having spare cash 12.The support my dad has recieved since being diagnosed 13.Mum checking up on me 14.How attracted my fiancee is to me 15.My time at CCAD 16.Getting this time with dad 17.My hair 18.The sparrows that live in the roof nextdoor. Bit of an eclectic one today (and there's that ice cream as predicted) and I fell short of the twenty I usually manage, but these are the things that got me through today. And some of them might sound silly but they matter to me. Reading is a big one. My life has always had stories in it. I'm in love with fiction. When I was a teenager I could devour whole books in a day. Get lost somewhere I actually want to be lost in. I fell out of love with reading for a while there, a period of four or five years, starting when I went to art college. I would try to read and I would struggle though ten pages or so before putting the book down. It just wasn't happening for me. I am so grateful that I have been able to find my way back to fiction and that I was led there in the first place when I was small. Books have been a good friend throughout the pandemic. My current companion is Good Omens (one I was read as a kid.My mum has good taste in stories) and it's as good as the first time I read it. Wracking my brains for something, even something small, that gets me through the day gets me though the day. And there have been so many days that have been hard to get through lately. It doesn't feel like it will end. But as long as there's sunshine, cute animal videos and £1 bars of chocolate I will have something to smile about, even if that smile is smaller some days than others. And I can carry them around in my pocket too and look them up on my phone whenever I need reminding that life isn't too bad, even when it's really bad.
I can't remember the first time I experienced the cognitive dissonance of looking at my body and knowing logically it was mine yet feeling like it was a completely separate entity from my inner world, but I remember the first time I tried to talk about it with someone. I couldn't have been more than seven or eight. This was before the impending deaths of my father and grandfather, and my grandparents were driving me back home after a weekend spent staring at the opium weights they had purchased on a trip somewhere in South Asia. My gaze remained steady as I listened to my grandfather's stories about his time in a camp in WWII, his voice trembling as he vacillated between dark jokes and terrorized tears. My grandmother always said he never left. It was as sunny as always as we turned down the street in San Diego where I spent most of my childhood, claustrophobically so. I peered out the window at a plastic green lawn then down to my hands and thighs, a familiar dissociation overwhelming me as I flexed my tiny fingers, examining the peeling skin around nails I bit so short that they bled. My wrists were always bleeding too, along with the back of my knees and the tender skin around my chapped lips, symptoms of my eczema. Even with medical creams underneath layers of bandages, I still scratched while I slept, ripping myself open over and over. I wonder now if I was trying to penetrate this flesh in an attempt to find some connection to this mind underneath. I'm reading a book about trauma called The Body Keeps the Score. One scientific study found a correlation between autoimmune disorders and significant past traumatic events. These events set off a fight or flight response, and the body can overcompensate so greatly that it begins attacking itself. Eczema is an autoimmune disorder. My recollections of my childhood are shrouded, vague shapes, but mostly obscured. This memory in the car is one of the few I have. Maybe this can be attributed to it being a key exemplifying moment of the disconnection I always felt between both pieces of myself and between myself and others. As I gazed at my tiny thighs- how strange it was that they were so slight! Microscopic in the scope of this planet- I asked my grandparents if they too looked in the mirror and saw foreign beings staring back. I assumed it must be universal, and I wanted to understand why it happened and how to cope with it. My grandmother said she had no idea what I was talking about. I now understand that this fracture was made sometime during the course of my life and is not an intrinsic state, but it's still hard to fathom the idea that most people have never experienced this sensation. I don't remember a time where it wasn't always occurring to some extent at any given moment whether I'm thinking about it- naming it- or not. Even when I do not give it attention or words, it scuttles around in the background of my consciousness. I've found ways to alleviate some of the most distressing aspects of this reality. Tiny needles filled with ink have penetrated my skin, depicting visions congruent with my inner world, reminders that this body is mine. As they increase, so does the reassurance that I'm connected to these limbs. Still, there have been times when the chasm between here and there have felt deeper, even recently. Last spring I spent exactly seventy days alone. Towards the end of this period I was tormented by a delusion I knew to be intellectually impossible, yet some part of me still felt it was real, like experiencing fear while watching a horror movie. You know it isn't happening, but it doesn't stop the nightmares. It consisted of the idea that if I was to look in the mirror I would see nothing there. If I looked at my limbs, they'd disappear before my eyes. The only thing confirming my existence was the heaving inhalation and exhalation of the walls of my apartment. Weeks of words unspoken can make you wonder if you're real. What is the difference between me alive and me dead if there is no evidence that I'm still here besides my own perception? I've come to the conclusion that seeking this sort of reassurance that I'm real from others is futile. When I think of that moment in the car, I am most struck by how much more isolated I felt when there was no solidarity, even lonelier than the seventy days I spent alone. Now I'm trying to connect the veins that pump blood through my body to the veins where intangible, hidden, ancient parts of my being reside. Just as my body is mine and mine alone, so too are the chasms. I'm the only one who can navigate them. I'm hoping someday that this archeological dig through my consciousness that I've embarked on might make me feel present in this corporeal form. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm starting to become the understanding adult the seven year old inside me still aches for. This body might still feel like a complete stranger sometimes, but she doesn't.
The sun was high up in the sky, shining with all its warm glory. I was sitting with my legs crossed on the floor of my room right under the air conditioner, reading. This amount of heat was not a unique sight during the month of June in Delhi. An ideal summer. What else would a just-turned teenager be doing in her summer break? Here I was, enjoying the last of my summer vacation, unaware that my life was about to be changed, entirely. Before long, the sun had started moving to the west and I decided that this was a good time to go cycling with my sister. My sister is younger than me by four years but we are each other's best friends. While I do have some really close friends from school, none have been with me as long as her. After about three quarters of an hour cycling around the neighborhood, I tediously dragged her back to the house. Usually we would have stayed out longer, but not today. Today papa would be returning early and I had to make some serious plans with him. Of course, I couldn't tell this to my sister because then it wouldn't remain a surprise when it was actually her birthday. As anticipated, our dad came back early. It seemed that he was just as excited as me which was a little rude since it showed that he liked my younger sister better. But I let it slide this time. He took off his shoes and was getting freshened up; with me waiting outside his door as a person who really wanted to use the washroom would. As soon as he was done changing, I took him to his room and began flooding him with ideas for what we could do on my sister's birthday. Only he (politely) shut me down immediately. Huh! Had he already made the plans without even including me? I thought. In a still excited tone he said “Calm down, we'll talk about this later. I need to tell you guys something. Let's go out in the living room.” He had to tell us something? But what? Curiously, I followed him. My mom was busy preparing the dinner and my sister staring at the television. My dad went ahead and retrieved some papers from his office bag. He went into the kitchen with me still following him at his tail. He asked my mom to join us outside to which she replied “I am not done with the dinner yet. Can this wait?” Apparently, it couldn't. So, there we were, the entire family sitting in the living room. My dad handed over the papers to my mom and she read. Now me and my sister were both baffled. We tried peeking over our mother's shoulder but before we could get a good look, my mom let out a loud gasp. What was happening? Our parents rejoiced while we just stared at them. After about a minute of this, our dad told us. “I have an interview at our bank's headquarters in Kolkata. They believe that I have been performing really well and now that I have cleared promotional exams, they really suggest I should give the interview.” Okay, so they were just excited about his promotion. I was expecting something more eventful but this could work too. My dad continued “and if I get selected after the interview phase, we could potentially be transferred to Hong Kong.” Okay, what!? Now it was me and my sister's turn to freak out. We could live in Hong Kong? We who had never even set foot outside of our country? This was surreal. I didn't even know that papa's bank had branches in places besides India. My sister and I hugged our dad so hard that we almost knocked him over. The rest of the day (which was only a couple of hours) was spent as we would on a festival. Soon enough, it was time for our dad's interview. We think he had prepared really well for it but wished him lots of luck nevertheless. He returned after two days and informed us that he thought he did well too. We had gotten our hopes up really high and it was not futile. He received the letter days later informing him that he had been selected to work at the Hong Kong branch for his bank and that we had to leave in a month. I don't think I had ever been so sad and excited all at the same time. On one hand, I was getting the opportunity of living outside of India and gaining so many new experiences. On the other hand, however, I had to leave behind so much and so quickly that it made my heart ache. Although I would have my family when moving to a completely new place, I would be leaving behind my two best friends from school (quite possibly the best people I have ever met so far). Throughout my childhood, I had moved from city to city and had to build my whole social life from scratch every time that happened. The thought of going through that one more time overpowered the dopamine rush from hearing such good news. I went through some serious brooding and heartfelt goodbyes after a crazy last month but it wasn't all bad. I constantly reminded myself that I could keep in touch with friends here and make new friends in Hong Kong and that everything will be fine. Turns it out, it was true. To gain something means to lose something else. It just depends on how you look at it.
The weight of the world sat squarely on his back, pushing life free from his lungs with every passing second. Yet, even as he felt death's embrace, he showed them respect and kindness. He thanked them for their service and they squeezed the life out of him. That boy's name was Elijah McClain, and the Aurora Police Department murdered him. I learned about his death last year, but he had already been dead a year by then. As I stared at his face on my screen, all I could think was what if that were my son? When my son was born we planned on moving to Colorado, but the plan always got sidetracked. One minute we don't have enough money, the next the military called and then doctors diagnosed my son with Autism and we decided Colorado, the haven we dreamed about, was going to have to wait. What if it didn't? What if we moved when my son was born? We got a delightful house with a backyard where he and I would build a treehouse. I could watch him play and laugh from the window. Listen to him live his life to the fullest. Let's say we took the leap and ran from the racism that is the south for the beauty of the mountains. He would feel safe and we would feel safe. Then one night he'll walk to the store to get something to drink. A neighbor will call the cops because he's a young Black man at night. What if we went, and he lived his life to the fullest only for me to bury him? My son can't speak, he wouldn't be able to calm the police like Elijah. My son panics easily. He wouldn't have been able to understand the events like Elijah. It would terrify my son, like it did Elijah. He wouldn't have made it home like Elijah. What if I moved to feel safe? Only to find out there is no safety for people of my skin tone, wouldn't that be a terrible thing? So, I sit in the racist south. I hold my family close and I wonder what if that were my son?
I watched joy bubble in her heart as she said "I Do" to the love of her life. I could feel her happiness as she stared into his eyes and envisioned the start of a good life with the only man that swept her off her feet. Her smile was infectious and broad, reaching her eyes and spreading throughout her features as she had eyes for only one man, the man whom she would build a new world with, whom she would cherish for a lifetime and grow old in his arms. He drew her close and kissed her full on the lips when the Reverend said "you may kiss the bride" and we all applauded. The occasion was a memorable one and my best friend Vera was married to Vandy as he was fondly called in the full presence of her family and friends who wished the new couple nothing but love and happiness in their new home. Sadly, that happiness was short lived and replaced with visits to the hospital a few days after the wedding. Doctors appointments took over the honeymoon, kisses were replaced with prayers for recovery, life plans were replaced with charts for medication and together forever grew farther away as his health didn't improve. That fateful morning greeted me with news so heart wrenching that I couldn't help the tears that spilled out. She told me that her Vandy was gone, never to speak words of endearment to her, never to hold her lovingly and share dreams with her, never to touch her passionately and grow old with her, never to smile again and share this world with her. She was heartbroken and distraught, in denial and pain, shock and disbelief as she watched life take away someone so precious to her and her heart broke over and over again. How are you doing Vera? I asked, her only reply is to burst into tears and say, "my sugar is no longer in this world". Days passed as preparations to lay him to rest commenced and I watched my dear friend transition from a young twenty three year old lady to a widow mourning her husband one month after she tied the knot. As tradition would have it, she had her head shaved, she wore black clothes, she was holed up inside surrounded by older women who comforted and guided her through all the procedures. It was devastating to watch my beautiful, fun loving, energetic and vibrant best friend lose her light and vigour because life stole something precious from her. She was mandated to stay indoors, to avoid the backlash and stigma that would follow such an untimely and unexpected experience. My best friend matured before my eyes as she found courage to mourn the loss of her husband, endure the probing eyes and side talks, sneers and insinuation from people who think they are saints and god's. I could feel her sorrow behind the calm lifeless smile she shared with people around her, I could tell she was scared and confused, she was alone and drowning in the uncertainties of what to come after everything. That experience was a hellish one for someone as young as she to go through and I know she still struggles with it everyday of her life. To my best friend Vera, you are the strongest woman I know. You have endured more than any young woman I have ever met and you came out brave and strong. In the face of all that you went through you never grew cold or let the emotions bury you under its crushing weight because you kept fighting back. You are a conqueror and a queen, you rose about your pain and fought to be a part of this world and enjoy what life holds in store for you. I admire you my dearest and I pray in my next world to know a friend like you. You will love again, you will feel loved again, which won't make you love Vandy any less or forget him in an Instant. He is always in our hearts and I bet he wants you to find someone special to love and cherish with all your heart. Smile for the world to see that you pulled through, that you persevered and came out better and stronger. Smile for the world to know that you are not afraid to love again. Smile for me to show me that you are okay and moving on. My dearest Vera, this tribute is for you. Thank you for being the strongest woman I know. Your best friend, Jane.
When I was in seventh grade, I took an aptitude test that told me I should seek out a career as a butcher. This seemed like a shocking conclusion since, to my memory, none of the questions gauged my knife skills (poor) or my interest in animal entrails (quite low). In an act of defiance, I bucked my destiny and went on to get a bachelor's degree in Communications. My first job was with an arts organization run by a married couple. David and Elle were “free spirits” who tried to hide their entitlement behind eccentricity and pass off their lack of personal or professional boundaries as avant-garde. A couple of months into my tenure, the office was abuzz. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma was in town and would be dining at the home of my bosses. “Jen, you and Therese will need to go to our house to meet the caterers soon, so they can set up for dinner,” Elle informed my supervisor as she flitted manically around the office. “By the way,” she said with an air of forced casualness, “we've been having a bit of a…ladybug problem. So, if you happen to see any, just vacuum them up, if you could.” She hurried away as Jen and I exchanged raised eyebrows. David and Elle lived in an affluent suburb about 40 minutes outside of the city, in a mansion full of sleek, brightly colored furniture and peppered with experimental (read: nude) art. The house was swelteringly hot, even though it was March and nobody had been home. After setting down our bags and shedding our coats and blazers in the entryway, we took stock of the dining room. I gawped a bit at a large pair of purple breasts staring back at me from a painting hanging above the long table. The far wall of the room was made up entirely of windows, opening on one side to a raised deck and looking out over an in-ground pool on the other. The view was slightly marred, however, by concentrations of dark specs scattered over the bottom quarter of each tall pane of glass, like a bacterial culture growing on a clear petri dish. Jen and I glanced at each other and moved closer to the window. We stopped short when we got near enough to see that Elle had not been exaggerating about their little problem: each dark spec was, in fact, a ladybug. “Shit,” Jen muttered and turned on her heel back toward the kitchen. I quickly followed. “Do you know where they keep their vacuum?” I asked as she strode into what appeared to be a laundry room, dreading the prospect of sending a bunch of innocent ladybugs to a dusty grave. “No,” her reply was somewhat muffled as she rifled through miscellaneous household items. “…but this will do,” she emerged, grimly holding up a small blue handheld dustbuster. That's how we found ourselves, dressed in business casual, crawling on our hands and knees on the heavy off-white carpet. Jen led our bleak two-woman parade, sucking up all the ladybugs she could with the dustbuster. I brought up the rear with a roll of paper towel, scooping up those mercifully left behind. Kneeling in my blue pencil skirt, sweat accumulating under my stiff button-down shirt, I wondered how in the hell I had gotten there. Every four feet or so, we would get up and run out onto the deck. Jen opened up the dust buster, I shook out my paper towel, and we set the ladybugs free. We finished up the operation in plenty of time, a bit disheveled but surely less so than the ladybugs. The catering staff arrived shortly thereafter and began unloading large foil trays of food in the kitchen. The warm, spicy smell of potato samosas filled the room, made all the more tantalizing by the knowledge that we were not invited to stay for dinner and thus would not be partaking in the food. My mouth watered as I pushed down a wave of hunger. Glowing headlights appeared through the front windows, signaling the arrival of David, Elle, and Yo-Yo Ma himself. Jen and I quickly smoothed our rumpled blouses and skirts; I tried to pat down my flyaway hairs and performed a quick armpit smell check. David and Elle whirled in, all disingenuous warmth, showering us in greetings and feigned gratitude as we took their coats and hung them in their own closet. Mr. Ma followed close behind. He smiled genially as we made our introductions, waving away my handshake and offering a kind hug. The group ventured off for a tour of the house, and Jen and I were free to go. I snuck a few potato samosas from the kitchen and bid Jen goodnight. As I drove home, I remembered that aptitude test from seventh grade. I may not have been fated to become a butcher, I thought to myself, but I had dipped my toe into another unexpected profession: exterminator. Maybe the writers of the test knew what I was starting to learn – that you can't genuinely plan for much of anything, and throughout your life, your career path will twist and turn towards and away from what you actually studied. Or maybe they just got a kick out of messing with pre-teens.
I am flying solo. I am walking the streets of Kadıköy all alone. My ferry ride: alone. My Sunday brunch: alone. I am taking the bus on a cold and snowy day: all alone. My music, my thoughts and baggy pants: that is all I have now. I walk past people with loved ones, I walk past happy children playing, I walk past old married couples, I walk past everything and they don't notice… And I am finally back at my bleak shelter that I call a dorm. My solitude. I am not alone. I am leaving Istanbul to go back home. I stop by every hand sanitizer station I can find. I stare at people to see if they are coughing. Anyone can have it. I might have it. We all might have it. As soon as they hear me arriving at home, my grandparents ask us to come to visit them. “I just came back from Istanbul, it's too risky,” I say. But they don't listen. My grandmother wants to cook me my favorite food, my granddad wants to buy me presents. Is that how people show each other their love? Because the idea of feeling responsible if they get “it” is not how I normally perceive love. It's silly. It's uncomfortable. It's just unnecessary. I show my love by not going there. It's because I care. Nevertheless, I start staying at my grandparents' house, eating at their dinner table, listening to their tea talk in the evening. I appear to not have “it”. They appear to not die. Time passes and managing friendships over the internet gets harder. I seem to not get on well with people that I call “my best friends.” They seem to not understand my jokes. They seem to blame me for my sense of humor. They seem to not care about my real intentions. They just see what they see and that seems to be enough for them. This is how I always do it, this is how I always show them I love them. I tell people that I don't care and when I laugh after finishing my sentence, it's always funny. It's hard to understand the fact that they just can't seem to tolerate me. It is more real than it has ever been now. I can't go out. My grandparents can't go out. People do Netflix parties, they facetime, they stay at each other's houses. I don't. I cook and bake and sleep and that's all. I have even lost my only weapon. I can't go and explore the city by myself anymore. I can't enjoy my solitude. I can't find the power to fly solo. At this exact time, people lose their beloved ones all around the world. Everything is so sudden. It's stupid how we take everything for granted. And if the people I love were to die the next day, unsure whether I love them or not, I would feel guilty. I would feel guilty for not being able to show my love and the fact that I care about them. I realize after all this time, this is not how it's done. This is not how you show people that you care for them. You don't do that by not showing up, by demeaning them, by ignoring them, by treating them like everybody else. You do that by spending quality time, by keeping your promises. You do that by making them feel special. I am now with my friends at Bebek. We are sitting in our favorite restaurant, eating our favorite food. People go past us, seagulls fly above us, a boat stops by the pier. My laughter is filling the air, I try to capture the moment and make it special. I have my friends now and they are all I care. I have my friends now and they know that I care.
I made mistakes and bad choices. I made poor decisions in life. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and reverse my actions. I have been stubborn, selfish, hard-headed, indecisive. I took so many risks without considering the risks at all. I love too much and fall so hard. I do my best at work and get so little in return. I trust so much and get hurt too often. I enjoy the company of others and the comfort of solitude. I make my friends smile and laugh yet I can't even make myself happy. I can give hard-core advice but I can't even solve my own dilemmas. I am a living irony. My world is my stage. And it seems like everyone's enjoying the show. Except me. Maybe in my next lifetime, I'll be the woman that I dreamed to be. Maybe I'll find closure to all the hanging questions in my head. Maybe. For now, I'll just live in irony.
The doctor said I only had about a thousand words before my life would end. I do not know which upsets me more, knowing my end is imminent or the revelation of that info being made to me during my doctors lunch break as he happened to pass by my room. What if he wasn't hungry? What if my door was shut? What if I were asleep? What if I hadn't come in because my wrist felt funny? I wonder about all of these things simultaneously, as the tracks in my mind become packed with trains of thought. The traffic exponentially expands into a gridlock, and I can't think straight. "Did you hear me?" says the doctor from the open doorway to my room. The sound of their voice snaps me out of my momentary meltdown. I nod, already fighting the urge to say "yes". As they walk away, the trains begin to run again. Have I lived a full life? What even is a full life? Is it living a set amount of time? 175 Does living a full life mean leading an existence of constant excitement? I've been on some adventures in my life, but were they the best ones I could have been on? Were they with the right people? Is life just a series of experiences connected loosely by faces that leave your mind when you've left them for too long? I'll never grow old enough to forget my children's names. I won't get the chance to feel disdain for growing pains. I have yet to meet a person who can stoke this dwindling flame and I don't think I will, my rose tinted glasses have shifted to gray. As I run out of words to utter I find myself resigned to my mind, admittedly somewhere I spend a lot of time but right now it's as if I have sought out shelter deep inside. The doctor did not say when I would die, but the word count being so low makes me think that I don't have a whole lot of time, it's maybe two thirty in the afternoon right now, and I'd be surprised if I make it past five. 365 I think that of all of the ways I could go, this is the most fitting. Being done in by that which I do too much of. Though they never mentioned directly that it was my incessant chatter that is the cause for my fatal condition, it was very implied. My friends always thought it was funny how I always had something to say, and now that I only can say so much, I'm lost for words. I should probably say something, I mean my parents have just been staring at me for the past ten minutes. Ever since the doctor came in and told me my word limit, I've been mute. Would you be in a talkative mood if someone told you you only have around a thousand words to live? My parents have this look in their eyes, a look I have only seen once before, I didn't like it before, and I don't like it now. 526 When I was five I decided it would be a good idea to climb my neighbors slide without permission. I should have asked for permission. The next thing I know I woke up in a hospital bed with blood on my hands and a pain in my head, like someone took the heaviest rock they could find and dropped it on me. It turns out it was the other way around, and I dropped myself on the heaviest rock I could find. I needed 14 stitches, and at the time I thought it was cool I had more stitches than years alive, my parents did not. They had this look in their eyes, like they almost lost something irreplaceable, or broken something unfix-able. They have that same look in their eyes as we stare at each other now. Though I think they look more confused then I am. 674 I kind of wish that a heavy rock HAD fallen on my head instead of this disease? Disorder? I still genuinely don't get what this whole talk myself to death situation is; but then again does anyone really get death? I can't fault myself for trying, yet I can't seem to come up with an explanation. What if that's the point, that it can't be explained, that it's not meant to be. Like the things I have done in my life, it's an experience, the only real difference being that it's one you can not talk about with other people after going through it. You know a thousand-ish words may not be a whole lot, but with the rise of acronyms during this internet age which I am a proud member of, combined with my decent interpretive dance ability, makes me think I could make this work, if only for a while. I know that I won't live past fifty, but realistically I could at the very least get a few more years under my belt. thirty-five maybe, I mean I'm twenty-five now, a hundred words a year, that's manageable. Through prudence in speech, there is the chance for a few more experiences to share with friends, a few more moments to be cherished before they become scarce. I can work with this, I want to work with this, I have to work with this. I should probably say something, but then again what do I say? Having to be selective means I need to somehow pack “I'm ready to make the most of what I've got” into one-
I have the impression that every time we go through a new "personal crisis", we raise ourselves higher. Even though for some crazy little moments you feel the world collapsing around you, you can't breath and you believe thst it is over your strength, you raise yourself higher.... I have realized that every small crisis that happens to you, always brings you closer to your true, sincere self. And when the crisis is over, you restart again for your destination with more energy and passion. You regain your strength which was forgotten. You are strong again to deal with anything. There are no enemies. There are no real threads, just some haunting "sirènes" that try to capture you. Scylla and Charybdis are far away now. The stage is over. Go to the next stage of your personal growth.
I was not actually thinking of it until I felt like I was asked to write about it, so here it comes. At quarantine I wasn't living that much but I was feeling so much, emotions which I learned to name during therapy, that I do for a long time now, but I forgot because for a really significant amount of time I haven't been dealing with myself alone, but I have a thing I learned about me. I like to feel the Sun. So this day I got up at my regular time, 8:30 a.m., and while I was doing some hibiscus tea, I turned my face and saw this sunlight shinning on the plants in my backyard. Then I put the tea in a cup and went to see the sun, I stood there for about 10 minutes with my eyes closed, just meditating. Hence, I decided to repeat this in the following mornings. For the whole week I woke up around 8:30 am, made my tea and went see this slit of light that illuminated the plants I myself planted a couple years ago willing to control my anxiety, it worked, allied with those things you know. It's funny how this light always shone over there, but I never really paid attention to it. It felt like a refuge, it felt a lot alike to be free. Whatsoever, this other day started raining and instead of being in the backyard doing my brand new routine, I started to scroll my social media feed and saw this post about eternalize your experience and memories by writing about it, so started digging into my memories everything that happened at home during quarantine and felt like an obligation to expose this experience, nothing was wrong. On the other hand, everything couldn't be more in the right place with my parents and sister, beside this week that was a month ago, which I lost two dears friends, not because of Covid, but because of it, we could not say a proper good bye, in fact, thousands of people out there couldn't offer their condolences to their loved ones. On this week I felt a darkness inside me, I felt sad for my friends, guilty and angry at those who were not respecting the social isolation, how come people could be this selfish knowing that every day thousands and thousands of people die in such drastic ways, the doctors and nurses were working twice as hard and people were struggling to survive. Nevertheless, I was lucky to be able to stay at home and connect with my family in innumerous possibilities, some good days, some bad days, in general, more good days than bad ones. So today, for the tenth time my sister did those chocolates with strawberries tartlets that she learned on the internet, those little pies where we find at bakeries and are incredible easy to make. Bakery, you just lost a client. Today, for the thirtieth time my father made his mind that he had to fix something that was not even broke. Today, for the fiftieth time my mother decided to clean up all the closets and cabinets of the house, it was a pile of useless papers to throw away, books from my school time, some History didactic books, that made me wonder about what history books will be like 10 years from now, another pile of clothes to donate, pieces which we didn't even remember, that we kept just in case this specific trend would be back and clearly didn't fit us anymore. Also today, for the thousandth time we laughed at my sister that if she doesn't do a standup comedy after quarantine, I'll do it for her, she's the most hilarious person I know, she makes fun of everything, the strange way I sleep, the weird habits my mother has, about how everything makes me cry, the weird habits our father has as well and every day she captures something different in all of us. Back to my daily routine, after this summer rainy day, very common here at this two degree below equator line city, I got back to my mourning ritual. Tea, Sun, meditation. After that I sat in front of my computer in my white desk seeing my bedroom's off white wall with some photos and random drawings on it, started working and an idea to write came to me and it reminded me this feeling of gratitude, but how can I put this feeling in a not boring and cliché words? I'm healthy, my parents are healthy, I'm at home, We are closer than ever. I'm lucky. What is all that noise? I can't believe it. My mother decided to change the paintings from wall and the furniture to different spots. Yeah, I think this kind stuff will be very common from now on, at least until the quarantine is over.
It's been a practice of mine for some years now to begin each day - generally around 4 a.m. - journaling my prayer time. I call it my Days of Communion. I have my tea, multiple colored pens, my journal, and worship or meditation music. The colors of my pens represent different streams of conscious: purple is mine (it's my favorite color), red represents the Spirit (like how the words of Jesus are distinguished in the Bible), and black, blue, and green are for miscellaneous things like definitions of words that I don't know or quotes of people that are relevant that mornings topic. Today is my 605th Day of Communion. As I collected myself and quieted my mind, I was drawn to the amazing feeling swirling in my solar plexus. I can't help but smile as I recall it now. I can't find the words to describe it. It was a mixture of pride, satisfaction, awe and love. I whispered, "Wow, this feels so good!" The following is the discourse that followed - it's in red in my journal :) Indeed, it does feel good. It's suppose to because you are living authentically by taking the steps that fulfill your passion. So many people are listlessly bumbling along without passion and excitement in their lives because they do not know who they are. Identity begats assurance. Assurance begats decisiveness. Decisiveness begats progression. Progression begats attainment. Attainment begats a higher awareness. Heightened awareness begats a deeper understanding of self which leads to a more refined identity. And then the cycle repeats itself until the dawning of self-actualization which is actually an authentic, holistic lifestyle. People like the statement "no one is perfect". OH, I BEG TO DIFFER! Self-actualization by definition is the realization or fulfillment of one's talents and potentialities and it is a need present in everyone. It is the cause of desperate cry: "why am I here?" The inherent drive for the answer to this question is so powerful that it can change the course of humanity. Once an individual reaches their highest level of psychological development and is thriving authentically in the fullness of their potential, they have reached their own level of "perfection" (because "perfection" in this form is subjective). They have, in essence, debunked the now cliched "no one is perfect" ideology - which is actually a form of social conditioning!! Let's take it a step further. Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48 This is the exhortation Jesus gave his disciples AFTER forty-seven verses of instructions on how to reach perfection within oneself and towards others. Earnestly following these instruction will lead to a higher state of consciousness which includes an in-depth awareness of who you are in the midst of others. It will also cultivate a heightened level of sociological empathy and compassion. This will consequently set in motion a quest for perfection among individuals thereby impacting the world at large. You see, the little steps you take in obedience to your own calling in life affects others in ways unbeknownst to you. Like the pebble dropped into a lake: the ripples of its' impact continue far and wide long after it has settled at the bottom... Stay the course. Though you may have to step out into darkness: take the step. Through the darkness is how you will find your light. Then you will see that your light is actually your self actualized.