As the world continues to spin despite everything, it is vital for my sanity to distance myself from the pressure of my responsibilities. Throughout the years, I’ve learnt a couple self-soothing activities that help me cope with the air whirling around me, so as not to end up at the center of a tornado some day. The tools I’ve been using to take a step back from the real world include (but are not limited to) reading, writing, and exercising.
As soon as I learned how to read, I became a big fan of reading. I remember finishing a book series for children in one sitting when I was seven years old and my mother being unhappy with the situation since I was supposed to be occupied with the series for at least a week. I have always been amazed by reading. In other words, by going after a thousand lives before I die, instead of just living mine without reading.
Becoming a strong reader has gone hand-in-hand with writing. I started to write journal entries when I was in high school. It helped me to stay in touch with the most quiet and reserved parts of myself. The parts that I wasn’t brave enough to unearth at that time. I have never quit journaling, but over the years my needs and desires have shaped my writing process. For example, at some point in my life, with Instagram bombarding us with images, I started writing a couple of sentences for the photographs that inspired me. I don’t know why I did that but these small stories I was composing motivated me to attend an online creative writing class. When I realized there were people way better than me, who really were capable of creating worlds through their writing, that passion of mine came to an end.
Years later, inspired by The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I started following the book’s quasi-spiritual manual for “creative recovery”. I started out just writing morning pages because I saw myself as a mathematician with writer’s block unable to produce any new papers. However, last year when I launched my webpage, I decided to start a blog. My original intention was to write about mathematics but I found myself making public notes about what’s going on in my life. It’s been a year and I am loving it.
All the time I spent reading didn't help much with my fitness level and as a result when I was growing up I was as big as a house. I was taller and, unfortunately, I was also way heavier than my peers. I wasn’t overeating, but I wasn’t getting enough physical activity either. My adolescence was full of unquestionable lines that I was not allowed to cross. My most valued virtue back then was to know what I was allowed to ask from my parents and asking for permission to be a part of any sports activity was beyond that lines. As all things come to an end, my high school years ended as well. During my college years, staying in a dormitory, surrounded by a thousand women, I started hitting the treadmill once or twice a week, not because I was a fan of walking from point A to A, but because the dormitory gym was the best place for escaping the crowd.
Over the years, exercise has turned into a routine and has helped me to achieve both physical and mental benefits. I started with doing pilates when I moved back in with my parents after college. The transition was very difficult and the best strategy for coping with change was to create some time to relax. Back then, going to a gym was not an option, and YouTube wasn’t yet what it is now, but there was a show on TV teaching pilates. Since the only TV we had was mostly occupied by the news, I wasn’t able to watch the show in the mornings. However, I was able to catch up with the reruns. I would try to understand the principles of the movements and then imitate them whenever I had time.
After I got a stable job and started living by myself, one of the first things I purchased was some pilates equipment. Since then, I’ve had a routine oscillating between places (home, gym) and types (pilates, yoga, strength, hiit) of exercise. I work out about four to five times a week and I always look forward to it. I like to workout first thing in the morning. For me, early mornings are the best time when I can catch up on work and prepare myself for whatever is coming next.
Lately though, I have been taking long walks by the sea. Winter time in Mersin is a time when the city becomes the epitome of outdoor walking. Having the Mediterranean sea by my side and watching the waves go in and out helps me to escape from the brisk rhythm of everyday life. I allow nature and the chatter of the total strangers passing me by to be my music while letting myself be in the moment.
During one of these walks, I came across three individuals who inspired me to write this post. One of them was a young girl, probably in her high school years, walking side by side with her parents. Her mother was trying to discourage her from something. “Please listen to us,” she was uttering, “it is in your best interest,” while her father was keeping his silence. The girl seemed intelligent enough to decide her own best interest, though. It was probably a parental manipulation moment where they often twist the truth and you end up feeling guilty and confused. Since I couldn’t get involved with what was going on, I passed by them. “Do what you gotta do girl,” I thought to myself. “Just do not forget that life is not just simply circling around in a small place until you become old and nothing else. Do not forget there are other ways to live in the world, other seas to swim in, other mountains to climb.” I might be projecting, but the truth is I really wish someone had said that to me when I was her age.
January 2023, Mersin.