Sunday, April 15, 2012

Random Reflections while procrastinating

After taking an hour nap to let my mind and eyes rest I still find my mind wandering away from my assignment. I know once I get in the groove I'll be able to finish it rather quickly. It's just a profile of one of my students and planning some activities to meet their specific needs.  

But dang my mind is all over the place lately. Definitely not in studying or..sometimes it's almost blank.

Now that I'm no longer working I'm finding myself re-evaluating myself and where I am. I guess it's normal for people to do this right?  To be honest, I look back at my last 8 months in Istanbul and I've had some exciting times but for some reason they seem to be forgotten so easily and I wonder, am I doing anything?
What am I doing with myself?  Am I improving upon my life? Or better yet, am I TRULY Living my life?

For the past 8 months since I took the teaching position at the last school I was at I found myself avoiding going out and pretty much having a daily routine of:

wake up
go to work
finish work
Take bus home
Sit in front of my computer
Go to sleep

On the weekends I avoid going out as well. After the night I lost my cameras I just wasn't motivated to go out. 
Now on occasion I do meet with a friend or I go to a party but even then I would find it hard to enjoy myself fully. Just as often I would avoid it.

The question is why?

I've got so many opportunities and hours each day to do things. I see my friends going out every day and I sit at home convincing myself, "no no  best to stay inside. It's safe. It's comfortable. Nothing unexpected can happen."

But  not too long ago I remember I craved that, it excited me. I'd have a smile on my face all the time. My wits were clear and remarks fast. Easy to laugh and help others laugh.  I hope now that I'm no longer under the stressful workplace environment I had been in, I will be able to go out and experience the sights, sounds, smells..the life of where I call home.

I was having a conversation into the whee hours of this morning with my old Tica friend Keithy. While talking to her I had so many memories that I had long forgotten suddenly rushing back to me. She reminded me of a time when I was truly, but truly happy. I don't think I will ever forget something she said.

"You know Josh, my mom always says 'I don't like Gringos (Americans)....except for Josh.' 'He was natural and had nothing to hide.'"

I was really flattered but it also led me to thinking, what happened to that guy?  That guy that would meet friends and talk for hours about anything under the sun. That guy that was rarely serious. The guy that was not fake...but natural and happy with himself.  I think another big part of my getting out every day and meeting people was that internet wasn't commonplace there. There was one internet cafe in the town and 3 computers at the school. So I would get on facebook or my email for about one hour a day. All the rest of the time I'd be walking around with friends, going to the beach, and eventually traveling outside of Puntarenas when I lost my fear of traveling on public transport alone. (silly isn't it...but I had never used public transport back home except to go to class on campus).

Of course That was 4 years past and counting when I was like this. In that culture I found it so easy to intermix and be accepted by the Ticos. I had no agenda but to experience life and enjoy it.  I would always be writing back to my mother telling her how I felt like I found 'home' and how great it felt to finally feel like I fit in. I also would write to her while in South Korea and tell her how much I miss Costa Rica where I could be myself and just be free. No hiding feelings or having to follow some way of living.

I'm thinking back on some of my highlights while in Istanbul this time around. We all know 2011 was an AMAZING time. It was almost a complete year of being random and meditating and...awesomeness.
I remember 2 people especially that really inspired me here in Istanbul. They aren't the only ones mind you but they really stand out to me at the moment.

Rowan of

This guy is currently on an amazing journey crisscrossing the world and often times putting life, limb, and liberty in danger for what?  For life I think. He'll never be able to say that he doesn't live the way he chooses. He takes challenges head on no matter how daunting they may seem.
But personally, he helped make possible something that was so scary yet so amazing.
He was the organizer of the No Pants Subway Ride started by improv everywhere.
He took the challenge of organizing the first one in Istanbul and it was craazzy to be honest.
But really it was so simple (at least for a Western mind). We didn't do anything much but we did challenge some assumptions and norms of Turkey in an innocent, fun way.  And just doing that little thing, wow, I felt so alive! Of course afterwards I kept a very low profile after for fear of the undercover police that had been videotaping and photographing us that day. But during that time, wow I felt alive. It would have been amazing to meet him while I was traveling the year before but who knows perhaps I can tag along in another one of his adventures.

Then before Rowan there was Inna.
Inna was a couchsurfer of mine while I was living in Uskudar. I wasn't feeling too great at the time. The job and the conservative environment were really wearing me down. She was somebody that was so 'real'   On  the inside and out. We could talk about anything and talk about it for a long time. While she was surfing with me it was an unspoken rule it seemed to just be natural. I explored some new parts of Istanbul with her and we chatted about our similar experiences back in the Philippines. Dreamed up future adventures such as going to Burning Man together and traveling. We encouraged each other to submit our stories for a book project and both of us shared in having our stories accepted. It was so exciting.  She gave me the feeling, despite being depressed, of being able to be myself. Achieving things I didn't think possible. To not care about what other people think or do but to just do what you want and love to do.

So....My question/challenge for my readers is.  Who has inspired you in the past year? Who helped you rise up to a challenge and allowed you to 'be yourself' and shed the clothes that society forces us to wear in order to fit in?

And even better. 

Who have you inspired lately?

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