I’m almost 15,000 kilometres away from the city of my birth, Istanbul, yet there are times I feel a profound connection with the place, the people, a way of life and the energy, particularly the emotions that possess an individual traveling in those parts.
Why am I even here in Sydney?
Well that’s a very long story, one that’s the subject of a book in progress, “Writing and Other Unwanted Gifts” you might get to read next year on a flight from Sydney to Istanbul. You’ll have plenty of time. The distance is over 20 hours of transit time.
And who knows?
If the book has the intended effect, you may stop reading once you’re three fourths of the way through and pick up a pen and a piece of paper, and start writing your own experiences whilst the words of Anthony Kiedis echo in your ear.
“Can’t stop the spirits when they need you, this life is more than just a read-through…
Just as I’ve found a portal in my head to connect with who I was as a child, a teenager, and a young adult now experiencing my 40th year on Planet Earth, you too may collect all those parts of yourself you thought were long gone, killed off by your parents, country and a world that demands you to tick the boxes, fit neatly into a cubicle, not rock the boat, not be an individual, remain compliant even when it is clear that the powers be are no longer powerful or in touch with what life force demands from us to continue our existence as humans on Planet Earth.
But this is not a political piece. My realisation isn’t one of activism. It’s the opposite. A little less action, more conversation, particularly with yourself, with your heart, to take the time to feel before making any movements, is what I feel is needed in this day and age.
As for my book, well, it’s intended as an exploration of where all the emotions, thoughts and actions, which pushed me all the way here, to a corner of the world so far from my birthplace, came about. How unconscious parenting, unresolved issues with self, the traumas, like viruses that hack operating systems, resulted in much movement, waste of creative energy, job after job, relationship after relationship, country after country, without intellectual fruits when I am in essence an intellectual being.
It’s also a love story to all the emotions that reside within all of us, that push us, that threaten to take us over or guide us to beauty that is life. To be taken over, pushed, or guided all depends on how much you’ve strengthened your core by doing the mystical thing known as inner work. And all that is the sound of silence out of which the answers emerge.
The Spirit as a Bastard
I was pushed around, stumped on, kicked, bashed, poisoned, stabbed in the back, punched in the stomach, shot through the heart, hit in the head but somehow survived without any medical treatment at all, because, hey, the part of me that suffered all this abuse is invisible, it’s the spirit. Our spirit is the part of us we don’t claim. It’s all woo-woo and New Age to acknowledge there’s this other aspect to our being that’s not the body or the mind.
Not many people think of nourishing this thing we can’t see. What good is a spirit? Does it even exist? We can’t see it, so people these days don’t acknowledge it unless they’re on the other end of the spectrum and it’s the only thing they’re concerned with, looking like weirdos to anyone else more attuned to the material world.
Having had limited access to therapy and for the most part not seeing a need for it once I started my regular writing practice, I believe the field of psychology is acknowledging spiritual practices like meditation as a way to heal past traumas in patients. There’s also a move towards drug-assisted treatments using MDMA particularly for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I know that bad trips have become the springboard for many people to turn their lives around because they shake one to the core and make you question the experience of life in a profound way. As a result, one can begin to be more playful as whatever exists on the outside may very well be a Matrix projection.
So, my spirit, the crippled bastard that’s recently been allowed to be seen, heard and cared for, what does she have to do with why I’m in Sydney and how I can travel back and forth between my physical location to my spiritual home in Istanbul in three minutes or less?
Let me begin with the first time my spirit was kicked around. Actually, I can’t remember it. It probably happened before I was even born. You see, dad was an enthusiastic TV producer in Istanbul who came up with all sorts of creative TV programming only for the media to ridicule or nitpick his efforts. He listened to the critics and quit.
I think this disappointment is something he carried with him because I could never express my own desire of writing and finding ways to create media productions that instill some sort of lesson, a value that I learned through doing all the wrong things in a way that Carrie Bradshaw does in Sex and the City.
This matter of spirituality, misunderstood and generally not talked about, can’t be explained because that’s didactic. It has to be shown but the spirit is invisible. Yet it’s what connects us to ourselves, each other and our planet. And these days, with an abundance of shelter, food, clothes even experiences that promise to titillate and thrill, the only thing missing in our lives that we try to replace with work, sex, drugs, addictions to food, social media, etc… is real connection.
How often can you articulate what’s really on your mind when we gather in family settings?
We tell ourselves we don’t want to burden others with our problems. So we shut up. We shove all those feelings back in our hearts until it becomes too much for us to contain and that’s when anxiety, panic and diseases start, signaling we have problems we must deal with. We can no longer numb ourselves with work, food, drugs, social media and what have you.
So dad’s rejection of his profession, constant comparison of himself to others and wanting to be the best is what I feel propelled us to the U.S. in the beginning of the 90s, when the US was still considered the top dog of the world.
And Australia? Again, that was a dream of dad’s from a young age. Why Australia? I never got to explore and find out but by God I will. But let me assure you, I didn’t end up so far from my birthplace and birth family because they accepted and nourished my spirit.
What ended up happening is that I found my family in Australia, thanks to my partner, an Australian man whose heritage goes back to the beginning of the colony. Home, it turns out isn’t a physical place. It’s within. It’s the original spirit and I can travel from here to Istanbul whenever I pause for a Turkish tea and a cigarette. I drink tea every day at three o’clock but only have a cigarette once a month. It’s good for my well-being because nothing but the smell and feel of a cigarette will take me back to Istanbul to connect me with the young adult I once was who rejected a cushy job with the U.S. DEA (and today am in favour of drug-assisted therapy, go figure) in favour of embracing the unknown.
Oh how dumb I was, and how brave, sure of myself and foolish and young, optimistic, naive, foolhardy seeing before me a world full of possibilities. I get all those feelings in my heart when I suck on that cigarette and remember that the world is a wonderful place, as mystical as Istanbul. If you weave your stories, which are modern day magic carpets, they take you to exotic lands. I’d seen proof of this and read about it in books like A Letter From Paris.
The Hero’s Return
OK, so what’s the fastest way to connect with your relatives in other parts of the world? WhatsApp groups are a popular way for families to come together when they’re in different parts of the world. It’s a bit like that cliche, the furthest distance between two people isn’t geography but their mindsets.
What if you’d been estranged from your family because neither your mum nor your dad, both firstborns, felt loved or accepted by them? Surely, why would mum and dad run away from their families at the first opportunity, shortly after their marriage, to the Turkish Aegean town of Izmir, about 500 kilometres south of Istanbul?
After my last visit to Istanbul to see my aunts, uncles and cousins there, I decided these people that mum and dad rarely talked about, weren’t so bad. So we kept in touch on WhatsApp.
But soon my ego monster, and mum and dad’s feelings of being hurt by them crept into the channel and I started resenting my mother’s sisters. They were exactly like what I thought, materialistic and shallow and well, I thought it was my job in that WhatsApp group to outdo them in having the best holidays and knowledge of the trendiest drinks, locations and of course, living in the best country in the world.
So, I was consumed by competing with them and it didn’t end well until I acknowledged it and forgave myself. They all turned up for my 40th birthday, on video, which was beautiful. Goes to show, when you feel people in your heart, you don’t have to be sitting around the same table. By the same token, if your heart’s not open, they could be embracing you and you won’t let them in like I didn’t let mum in for 30 years, and she still doesn’t let her mum in and as for grandma?
Why was she so consumed by fashion to the point of ignoring her children’s emotional needs?
I may never know but that’s not within the scope of “Writing and Other Unwanted Gifts”so will be OK with not having my curiosity satisfied.
Over to you…
What’s been your experience with exploring spirituality? Did you share your experiences with friends and family and how did they respond to you?