I sit in the waiting room and watch the snowflakes stick to the airplanes. While I wait for the boarding, my eyes glance across the man in front of me. In a business suit and with a stern face, he plays games on Facebook. He nervously presses the digits on his mobile phone, while his face remains perfectly still. ‘A little bit longer, a little bit longer, and you’re there’ – I keep telling myself. To the East. To the East. We finally depart. My first solo traveling this is.
To the East…
It seems to me that everyone who spends a lot of time thinking, eventually find themselves setting off for the East at some point in their lives. The truth, the magic of the East calls upon every one of us, but do we all hear its call?
There comes a morning when you wake up and you know that everything will be different from that day on. In what way, you don’t know yet, but you feel a force approaching and filling every inch of your body. Without permission. And everything that seemed distant, painful and unknown suddenly becomes easy and understandable. At that moment, I did not know how to call these moments, but now I know they will be the best moments of my life. And there will be more. That’s the call of the East. Not an escape from the life I have, but a response to my inner Friend.
I get out of bed and pack my backpack because – it’s time to go. I’m neither surprised nor excited. I feel completely peaceful. I lift my backpack, fumble for my passport and close the door behind me. What do I really want with this journey? Will I succeed in restarting myself and my emotions like I restart my computer? Will I manage to get back to the original state by forgetting everything bad, by getting to know myself again and accepting the only life I have?
While the music plays in my ears, I knowingly shut down the world around me. Let it turn, but without me in it. All I want is to watch because, besides moving, I don’t have any other agenda.
I sit by the window. We take off. I leave everything behind, but my soul still cannot reach the clouds. I doze off, I think, I reproach myself. I forgive myself. I let go and wait. Still nothing. Shouldn’t I at least feel something? You’re finally there. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? Then, why aren’t you happy, or at least relieved?
Meeting your inner Friend
The moment of complete fulfilment is coming, I know it. And when it comes, it will hit me. Hit me hard. And then, in a completely foreign country, I will become aware of myself, of my body and mind. It will be my rebirth. The theory is crystal clear, but in practice, I always chase after something. Some unknown force keeps pushing me further, but I so strongly want to be present in this precise moment. Now and here, despite of all emotions and anxieties.
And even though I leave for only a few days, these days will be crucial. My inner Friend will confront me with the past, make me feel anxiety, anger… But far more often, he will put a smile on my face, make me fully breathe again and welcome strangers with a newly mended heart. He will dare me, try to scare me but – I am not afraid. All I need I already carry within.
At 7,000 meters city lights look like tiny Christmas lights. You don’t even need to focus your eyes like you do in front of a Christmas tree to increase the blinking effect. Everything is ‘bokeh’. And while Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tells me about love, the captain informs us that we are landing. Nothing yet. Start feeling something, won’t you! It is time for happiness, sadness, exhilaration, anything!
I slowly make amends with my apathy and sit at the front of a bus driving to the Taksim. It is getting hot. Setting off with the temperature below zero, I arrive at the pleasant 20 degrees. The warmth touches my face making it redder and redder. And then I start feeling it coming. Sneaking. Quietly and slowly like some insidious disease, like an avalanche rolling down the hill. I don’t fight it. It starts at my feet and spreads throughout my body. I am being attacked from head to toe. The tingles become bigger. And bigger. Now they are all over me. This incredible energy flows through my body and makes goose bumps on my skin, while my cheeks are on fire.
And then I smile. From the heart. I smile at myself and at the city I do not know, but feels like my own. I smile at the woman sitting next to me and looking at me strangely. If this is it, I love that feeling. And I want it to last.
‘Welcome to Istanbul’ says the driver while I get off the Havatas bus. I respond with a smile and I do not take that smile off for the following couple of days. While I stand on the hostel terrace letting the wind play with my hair, some guy tells me it’s insane to come to Istanbul all alone. I take a sip of Efes beer and smile. And I think – if it’s crazy to be here alone, than this trip is the craziest thing I could do to actually come back home. And I thank my inner Friend.