Goodbye // Off to the Next One

Hello friends.

I’d like to report that I have arrived safe and sound back in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since we last spoke, I’ve visited Berlin, London, Oxford, and Amsterdam. This part of my journey, I travelled alone. At first the idea of being alone frightened me, but it turned out to be a fruitful and illuminating experience. Being alone in those new places brought me face to face (or thought to thought?) with my own wonderings and fears; this direct (and not easily avoidable) confrontation made me more aware of what I find value in, of what I want to place my time in. That sort of knowledge about one’s self, even if its only a glimpse of the surface, is invaluable.

Seeing as I have reached the end of this adventure, I’d like to bring this blog to a close. I’d like to thank each and every reader, but especially those who have followed the blog regularly and those who have left feedback. For those who are interested in wellness, running, well-being, philosophy, and/or for those who enjoy reading my thoughts, I will be starting a new blog in the next week surrounding these themes. I will post a link on this blog once the new one is up and running.

Much happiness to you,
K.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Going, going, gone <3

Istanbul is in my past, for now. Since writing last, I’ve planted my feet in a number of new cities and countries: Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; and now Prague, Czech Republic.

I’m struggling with what to tell you about these places… I’ve sincerely enjoyed all of them. They have their unique sites to visit, their own attitudes and atmospheres… But ultimately, everywhere is just another somewhere. Travelling through these places has been amazing and eye-opening; I’m very grateful and excited to be seeing and experiencing these lands. However, they are all cities and towns and places that people live just like any other; travelling is not some magical greener pasture or cure-all for anything. Do not forget that you cannot help but always bring with you more than just your suitcase – you bring your emotional, spiritual, and mental baggage as well. But I suppose that is part of the beauty of it; it gives you new environments and perspectives to examine yourself in, while you discover the history and way of being and doing of a foreign land.

Everyone’s reasons for travelling, everyone’s experiences abroad, they are all different. What will never change though is that by putting yourself into new spaces, surrounding yourself with new faces, you are giving yourself an opportunity to grow in ways that may not have been available to you otherwise. Talking to the friends I have made, we each take away different lessons from our times in these cities. I couldn’t possibly explain preciously what I have learned, or what you may discover if you choose to embark on your own journey, but I can promise you that nobody walks away unscathed, unchanged.

From the outset of this blog, I’ve made it quite clear that my intentions for my trip to Istanbul and beyond were to find the space to explore and re-understand myself. To this end, my journeys have very much been a success. I leave for Berlin tomorrow, by myself. The thought of going at it alone is giving me all the feels, but, as my five and a half month adventure is nearing its end, I am excited for what I may find as I wander my way through Berlin, London, Oxford, and Amsterdam with nothing but my own thoughts and desires to guide me.

Best,
K.

Dusk in Prague

Dusk in Prague

Sometimes, don’t think. Just feel.

As a philosopher and a thinker, I find it alarmingly simple to fall into a labyrinth of my own thoughts in which I unavoidably become lost and distraught. It is not until a friend, or a book, or a song, or a feather in the wind stumbles through my wandering and wondering gaze to remind me of the power I have over my own state of being that I am able to find my way out of this labyrinth of mysterious curiosity.

When I eventually do meander my way back to a light, I find that what matters most is that I am able to look back upon the winding path that I have travelled and smile appreciatively, knowing that it is all a part of the experience, of the journey, of the moments and feelings that make up the entirety of my earthly being. The immensity of it all becomes so much more worthwhile if only we allow ourselves to enter a positive state of mind. It is these ideas which inspire in me the following thought: life keeps on coming, time keeps on passing. Allow yourself to fall into happiness, and all else will begin to shine with an incomparable glow.

A thousand well wishes,
K.

The question of travelling

Why travel?

Why leave the comfort of everything that is familiar and “normal”? Why spend your time, your money, your energy on setting sail for new shores? What do you even get out of it? What is the point? One hundred different people could give you one hundred different answers. A friend led me to an article called The Art of Running Away, which recounts one person’s explanation and justification of why travelling is worth it, or even necessary.

Honestly, I don’t have a specific answer as to why one should travel. I just like it. I learn from it. I want to better understand this situation I find myself in, this world in which we operate. Travelling and being exposed to different ideas and norms helps me to this end. I chose to study philosophy mostly because I wanted an answer to what was right and wrong, an answer to what I ought to do with the time I found myself with. I have yet to find an answer to these questions, but I have learned how to ask more questions and how to articulate the things that I discover. I guess after three years of studying in Winnipeg, I was frustrated with what felt like a lack of progress. I needed a refresh. Travelling gives you new perspectives, new environments in which you can look back on yourself through the new people you meet and the places you navigate. It reminds you of the steps you’ve taken, and of how capable you are of taking many more. Not only this, it forever lights up your awareness of a people, a place, that would otherwise be a dark spot in your understanding.

If someone asked me right now why I did it, why I came here, I’m not sure what the truest answer would be. It is unsurprisingly a very common question I ask and get asked here. The easy answer is that I came to Turkey because I wanted to experience something different, to be exposed to a way of living and doing things different from what I had become too accustomed to. In all fairness, I suppose this answer is accurate, but it doesn’t really capture the whole picture. In actuality, I had begun to stagnate, to become unsatisfied with myself and my routines. I felt like I was not getting anywhere new, I wasn’t growing and sensing the way I wanted to be. I needed a shock, a jolt, something to reignite the desire and curiosity for knowledge and connection that I knew slumbered within me. And it worked. It really really did. I feel clearer now about the steps I need to take, and more confident about where I am in my life. Perhaps there are ways that I could have gotten back to this headspace without travelling across the globe. Nevertheless, I’m so glad I came here and I am so grateful for the experiences and opportunities it has afforded me. So perhaps a better question to ask is not why travel, but why not travel?

Treasures from the Grand Bazaar

Treasures from the Grand Bazaar

All the luck to you,
K.

The Doubt Is Natural

There is a page on Facebook, called berlin-artparasites, that often posts art along with quotes and excerpts from various sources. Today they posted something that speaks very closely to the worry and fear that I was getting at in my previous post. You can find the original post on their Facebook page here.

“Single people want relationships, settled people wonder if they’re missing out on something, traveling types miss stability, stable ones are restless, old friends want new friends, new friends miss old friends, and basically almost everyone my age has some dangling worry trailing around after them everywhere that they’re somehow not doing everything, that what they’re doing is not altogether the right thing, that they are missing out. … Do not be ashamed. The doubt is natural, and everyone you know – yes, even that person – carries it sometimes too. Allow yourself to be peaceful. Allow yourself satisfaction in what you have. If you really don’t like it, allow yourself permission to make changes.” -Lillian Schneid ‪#‎TodaysMantra‬ painting by tumblr artist solar-sisters

“Single people want relationships, settled people wonder if they’re missing out on something, traveling types miss stability, stable ones are restless, old friends want new friends, new friends miss old friends, and basically almost everyone my age has some dangling worry trailing around after them everywhere that they’re somehow not doing everything, that what they’re doing is not altogether the right thing, that they are missing out. … Do not be ashamed. The doubt is natural, and everyone you know – yes, even that person – carries it sometimes too. Allow yourself to be peaceful. Allow yourself satisfaction in what you have. If you really don’t like it, allow yourself permission to make changes.” -Lillian Schneid

Being Human.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu

You’ve heard it before. Nothing is permanent. Feelings change, context alters, weather warms, hearts cool   //  I’m sitting in a super chill cafe in Istanbul near my university. I’m feeling strange. I realize I haven’t written much at all in the past three weeks. I decide to write.

My time has been jammed pack with everything from various journeys, visits from far-away friends, and heart-filled conversations to studying for midterms and lazy days of killing time with new friends. Every moment of it is an experience and a half of discovery and awe, of which I regret nothing.

I may be across the world taking part in happenings like no others, for which I am fundamentally grateful, but this does not grant me immunity from feeling low. I sometimes feel guilty for feeling down while partaking in such an opportunity like this journey, because how dare I feel sad about something that likely seems relatively insignificant while I’m on an adventure that so many will never so much as dream of. But then I am reminded from an unexpected source that we cannot truly compare our sufferings.

If you will allow me a buddhist moment, I will remind you that suffering is an inevitable aspect of existence. “It’s hard having nothing. It’s hard having everything. It’s hard. Suffering is very personal and cannot be measured from the outside. We all suffer differently.” I may not be lacking food, or shelter, or friendship, but I still question myself, my worth, my existence, the point behind all that I do and all the interactions that I share with those around me. I still doubt my decisions, my goals, my motives and aspirations. However, when it comes down to it, I refuse to feel guilty for suffering from this self-analysis that I think all can relate to in some form or another. Besides, how much credit could I really afford myself if I did not question myself? I do not write any of this to seek pity or to justify a sadness. I write this to remind you that you need no ones permission to experience yourself and your existence. Feeling, both high and low, is a part of being alive. We are allowed to feel down and to wallow in the rain, just as freely as we are to smile with the sun.

Being compassionate, being kind, means understanding that each of our narratives comes along with its own twists and tricks, and not belittling each other or ourselves because of the differences between our understandings and expressions. Sadness is not something to hide away, not something to ignore or disregard; it is significant in its own right. Suffering is no less legitimate than happiness; let us not deny ourselves the freedom to explore without discrimination what it means to be human.

So many choose to ignore certain aspects of human existence, choosing instead to pretend they do not exist or that they are not worthy of our attention because they are too weird, too awkward, too unclean, too irrational, too selfish. In too many cases, our less than positive feelings fall into this category, along with physical and mental health matters, sex and sexuality, and bodily functions. In the grand scheme of things, it seems utterly ridiculous to me to pretend that such things do not exist when we are all well aware of them. Why should we deny ourselves the freedom of acknowledging and communicating about these shared positions we all find ourselves in? There is no shame in being human.

Journey well,
-K

Travel Logs

Hello, friends.

I’ve been up to quite a lot the last couple weeks. I’ve travelled to two new cities, I’ve continued to connect with new friends, I’ve learned things old and new… I’m floating on through, experiencing whatever comes my way.

Concerning my recent travels, I journeyed to Cappadocia two weekends ago with a group of exchange students from the university. It is a high traffic tourist area in central Turkey consisting of a plethora of person-made caves along with a zillion naturally formed “fairy chimneys”. The landscape was breathtaking, and very much worth the torturous 12 hour bus ride. 

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Fairy Chimneys

Fairy Chimneys

As someone who greatly appreciates all things earthy and alive, I really enjoyed exploring the various sights of Cappadocia. That being said, I think my favourite part was having the opportunity to travel there with such a diverse group of people. As I’ve mentioned before, there are people on exchange here from all over the world (although mostly from Europe and the surrounding countries). To be surrounded by such a plethora of nations is a truly fruitful experience. More than this, travelling with these persons in an environment completely new to us all allowed me the opportunity to get to know them, to deepen friendships, and to sow new ones. Nothing fosters getting to know one another better than hopping on a bus full of strangers and acquaintances, and journeying to lands unknown.

In the week following my trek to Cappadocia, a new friend of mine invited me to accompany him for a weekend to Ankara to attend an international feminist forum, as well as to explore the capital city of Turkey. The spontaneity and uniqueness of this opportunity ensured my participation. The forum proved to be informative and intriguing. It reminded me of lessons I had previously learned that I had forgotten somewhere along my way, as well as taught me many new things. I particularly enjoyed a presentation by Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller on the female orgasm. They are an American couple who travel around universities and other platforms giving various talks on sexual education. You can find out more about them here. They were funny, personable, and very informative; I’d love to see them come to the UofM and other Canadian campuses.

Aside from the forum, I really enjoyed my time in Ankara. The city is a lot like Istanbul in many ways, albeit smaller. Although some say it is crowded, I felt much less overwhelmed there than I did when initially arriving in Istanbul. I had the opportunity to visit various tourist destinations while I was there. By the time I was on the shuttle back to the airport, I felt a sense of satisfaction at feeling like I had done it, I had experienced Ankara.

Kocatepe mosque

Kocatepe mosque

View from atop Ankara Castle

View from atop Ankara Castle

One of 12 lions lining the way to Ataturk's outstanding mausoleum

One of the twelve lions lining the way to Ataturk’s outstanding mausoleum

Classic corn stand

Classic corn stand in Ankara airport

On a final and completely unrelated note,
corn is popular here:

Peace!
K.