“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus, Massachusetts Medical School
Antalya town sits on top of a rocky outcrop on the Mediterranean coastline.
Walking in the gardens after breakfast, I spot a wooden dhow sailing out.
As the wind pushes the dhow, it whispers its secrets of days gone by. Of, Attalos II the King of Pergamon founding this strategically important port city more than two millennia back. Of pirates seeking refuge in the steep rocks and mountains, biding their time to loot the arriving merchant ships. Of the waxing and waning of Christianity as the Byzantine forces fought and lost naval battles to the Arabs in these waters. I listen entranced as I watch the gardeners lazily tending to the shrubs. Can they not hear these whisperings?
Strolling through Hadrian’s Gate and into the old historical quarters, I am reminded of Ibn Battuta, that prolific Arab traveler in the fourteenth century, and his impressions of Anatalya. Of a beautiful town, well laid out and counting amongst its citizenry an impressive social diversity of Christians, Greeks, Jews and Muslims. As I walk the narrow cobbled bylanes, I can almost “see” the comings and goings of these diverse people in the centuries gone by. But do these souvenir shop owners sitting here day in and day out, not share my vision?
I sit near the clock tower, a nineteenth century stone citadel of the Ottoman times. The Kaleici district, replete with old houses and narrow lanes, slopes down to meet the Mediterranean shores. As if in an effort to balance on the slope the rooftops and terraces point out at awkward angles. Folks sit around peacefully, hardly a word being spoken.
The stillness gets broken by the tingling laughter of two girls as they come running to the chestnut selling vendor. School over, they speak excitedly about the beautiful weather and their plans to go down to the harbourside. Young open minds, soaking in the sights and sounds, passionately open to possibilities. Scarcely a head turns however to watch the girls excitedly canter down the narrow lane. What stops these good folks from appreciating the beauty around them?
I wonder what is it that stops the gardeners, the souvenir shop owners and those folks near the clock tower from seeing and appreciating the “here” and “now” as I could. Could it be that as a visitor, the newness of the place opens me to receive all that is around me? And could it be that for all these other folks, the familiarity and routineness of their daily lives makes them go on autopilot? A mode allowing them to escape a boring present. As they choose to enjoy the thrill ride negotiating between a “what I could have been” past and “how I would show up” future.
And so as I walk away, I muse on how we could bring that curious visitor mindset in our day to day lives, free of clutter, mindful of the present, open to possibilities. What we could do to shift ourselves to live our passion in the moment, make choices free of fear, guilt or societal expectations.
“Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect.” – Unknown
In learning………….. Shakti Ghosal