Monday, 16 May 2011

Istanbul, Turkey

When I started this trip 100 days ago, I believed that I was embarking on a truth-seeking journey.

Me watching Muslims pray tonight inside Istanbul's Blue Mosque. 

There were two things that made me view my trip in this way.  The fırst was my writıng instructor at the University of Washington.  Jim frequently compared travel to writing in the sense that both are explorative pursuits that teach a person a great deal about themselves and about the world.  In both writing and travel, the end state or final destination is not nearly as important as the act or the journey itself...

I was also inspired to view my travels as a truth-seeking journey by a beautiful quote in Elizabeth Gilbert's travel memoir, Eat, Pray, Love :

"I've come to believe in something I call 'The Physics of the Quest.'  A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity.  The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this:  If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willıng to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you."

 The Blue Mosque at sunset.

This trip has convinced me that Quest Physics exists.  Quest Physics is the real deal.

More broadly I believe that Quest Physics can be extended to everyday life.  All the people we need to meet, all the situations we need to encounter, all the lessons we need to learn...everything, in fact, that we need in order to become enlightened at this moment in our lives are always right there in front of us every day if we only keep our eyes open!

 Courtyard inside the Blue Mosque.

On this trip the people, the situations, all the components of everyday living have taught me so much.  For example, I fınally feel, at 28, that I might be very close to understanding what it really means to love myself...and by loving myself what it really means to love another human being.

Inside the Blue Mosque.

Beautiful domed ceiling inside the Blue Mosque.

Quest Physics has shown me, for example, that...

Love is not clinging, it's not dependency, it does not guilt trip and rehash the past.  
Love expects nothing in return... 
It is enough just to know that you are capable of Love.
Love never prevents a person from living their dreams and pursuing their destiny.
Love is tolerant and accepting.  It never tries to change a person or mold them into something they are not.
In fact, Love is the ultimate freedom, the ultimate liberty.

Love is concerned with spiritual growth.  It always wants the best for a person, even if the best thing is not to be in a relationship.
Falling in Love is not real Love.  Falling in Love is effortless.  Real Love requires an effort.  It requires a person to act against entropy, it requires acts of Love even in moments when there is no feeling of Love.  
Love is the ultimate freedom, the ultimate liberty.  Yet, Love is also a conscious choice, a commitment.

The Bosphorus runs through Istanbul.  This strait forms the boundary between Europe and Asia.  Yes, that is right, half of Istanbul is in Europe and half of Istanbul is in Asia!

Child playing with pigeons along the Bosphorus.

Today, Day 100 of my RTW trip, I bought myself a ring at a market in Istanbul.  This ring symbolizes my belief in the power of Quest Physics.  When I look at this ring I will be reminded of the truth-seeking journey I embarked upon at the age of 28 and all the lessons it taught me.  I will be reminded that life's greatest lessons are always available to me (even if I am not traveling) as long as I have the courage and the humility to "regard everything that a clue and...accept a teacher and...face and forgive some very difficult realities" about myself.

The Quest Physics ring.

Tonight, walking through the streets of Istanbul, I heard the Muslim call to prayer emanating from the Blue Mosque... 

It gave me chills.

One of the Random Road Revelations I've had on this truth-seeking journey is what a beautiful and peaceful religion Islam is, at heart...

1 comment:

  1. Very excellent thoughts about love. Very beautifully put. Thank you!