Note: I write this blog for my friends to remember our good times by so if you cannot tell what’s going on — you know, like what actually happened in this post to warrant me writing about it — know that I couldn’t either. But they will know exactly what I’m talking about. But to you my avid reader press on because maybe you’ll benefit from their wisdom.
I am going to miss my friends here from Istanbul so much that the phrase “a lot” has lost all meaning to me. One, in part because they put up with — no, seemingly ENJOY — my quirks, and two, because I’ve learned so much.
Over dinner and peach juice Cassie told our group the story of a humble village fisherman. It went something like this:
One day a businessman came to visit a small village. At the dock he met and complimented a fisherman for his impressive catch and modest boat. But the businessman was curious and asked, “how long does it take to catch the fish?” When the fisherman replied, “only a little while,” the businessman looked at the boat and wondered, “why don’t you stay out to fish longer and make more money? What do you do with your extra time?”
Smiling, the fisher replied, “I sleep, fish a little, play with the children, spend time with my wife, take a siesta, have evenings in.”
Unconvinced, the visitor told the fisher about his Harvard degree. The businessman informed the fisher that if he spent more time fishing, he could buy a bigger boat. With the bigger boat, the fisher could buy several boats. With a fleet he could make lots of money. With his investments he could expand the business. “You could create a whole corporation worth millions in twenty years!” exclaimed the businessman.
“But then what?” the fisherman softly inquired.
“Well, then you’d be rich!”
“But then what?” the fisherman asked again.
“Well, then you could retire,” explained the businessman, “you could retire and move to a small coastal village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your children, take a siesta, and have relaxing evenings with your wife.”
To all this the fisherman listened. He was still smiling at the Harvard MBA when he answered, “Isn’t that the life I live now?”
There are times in life when “I don’t even know what just happened” doesn’t quite cover it. But, the case could be made for just about every hopeful twenty-something’s decade of living the what-in-the-name-of-Sam-Hill-am-I-doing-with-my-life (AKA the rampant disease WITNOSHAIDWML) syndrome.
We graduate high school, we work through college, we try our hardest to learn how to write checks properly. We want to be good members of society and live fulfilling lives. We try to become our heroes. But how often do we say, “this is the life I want to live now”? How often do we let people say to us, “you’re an anthropology major? That’s gotta change.”
Well, I’m hardly the person for deep philosophical musings or answers — I AM the twenty-something who asks herself “why aren’t there more lemon bars, in this — my hour of greatest need?” on a regular basis while trying to stay cool.
So instead let me tell about how I don’t even know what happened on my friend Melissa’s birthday. Guys. I don’t even know what happened. One of you fill me in okay? All I know is that we all somehow ended up on the same bus, hurled our way through a metro, stuffed five girls into a sports car, found a harp teacher, and commandeered a restaurant. And that it was beautiful.
Because the girls taught me some things along the way.
If you’re like me and suffering from WITNOSHAIDWML too, have no fear.
You’ll be okay.
I have wise friends who say keep calm and do this:
1. Always play to the camera.
2. Be down to earth. And smile about it. It just so happens that falling up the stairs is a great way to make an excellent first impression.
People can just tell that you’re wonderful.
Bonus: If you happen to find yourself uncontrollably laughing after your friend falls up the stairs for the umpteenth time just remember that you”ll probably go down with her too (hard) as you’re laughing just moments later by some karmaic law of providence.
And it’ll be great.
3. You have to actively seek out what you want — chase it down, ruthlessly. So, when you find yourself walking up a dark staircase to an unlit ballroom restaurant, linger as long as possible and proclaim, “it’s my birthday!”
People will just give you what you want if you go after it with enough fierce determination. Especially when neither party can understand the other’s language.
Or maybe it’s because they’re pretty.
4. When you’re not sure about trying something new — applying for that scholarship or moving somewhere foreign — it’s okay to give it a go. It’s okay if maybe you fail at it. Because, you can learn everything you need and you can learn more about yourself from merely the application. The application could open so many doors that you never even knew.
5. By all means, try the Mexican food at the Turkish restaurant. But remember: You have the privilege of choosing the meal, just…not the consequences.
6. Follow what you love. If you’re a harpist, follow the teachers around the world. Because then you get to break it out and you instantly class up any questionable dining experience.
7. Ask questions. Go ahead, ask the questions that others are afraid to ask. Ask, “how do you do that? What can I do?” of people and they’ll tell you (they gots lots o’ knowledge and they’re dying to tell you). People who ask questions are indispensable to the world (and my happiness).
8. Why spend life wondering where and when your next vacation will be? Live your life not wanting to escape from it.
People may not agree with what a successful life entails — desk job, money, BMW — but why spend a life just to make money to eventually live the life you want? Sacrifice, true sacrifice, for maybe your family (love makes life worth living itself), is different from the act of waiting for the rain to stop.
Live the life you want. That is, don’t just “live it up,” but live to the best of your potential each day.
9. And this last one is from me: Everyone and their dog is going to tell you exactly what they want and how they’re going to get it. There are people who pride themselves in it. But I will miss my mark in a thousand ways to get to someplace better and more unique than I could have imagined.
I am worlds apart (literally 5000 miles away) from the person I was one year ago. But I am here. I am trying my best to take what lessons I can from things that are simple. Like crazy nights with the best group of vagabonds.
Holy crap am I going to miss you. But it’s okay because we’ll see each other in Canada, Kiev, and South Korea soon. Got your tickets yet ladies?
I write this blog as a big thank you to the people in my life. And really. I just. I just have no words better than your own and I love you.
Buğdaylı Pasta & Cafe, I salute you.
Sorry about the peach juice all over the floor.
The restaurant can evidently be found somewhere in Ferahevler, Sarıyer. I was high off of Turkish candy and happiness. I cannot be expected to be reliable this way.