Quarantine Diaries: Day 53

13 May 2020 // 20 Ramadan

the details of my day are not worth mentioning. it was no different than yesterday and the day before and the one before that. i have nothing to say except this:

when lockdown started in mid-March, we were stifled with uncertainty and ignorant of how long it would take to get back to our lives. we were all baffled and in collective distress. the imminent threat and consequent anxiety were rippling all around us, invading our minds and permeating our homes and ghosting our streets. for the first time in our lives, we were all feeling the same emotions, thinking the same thoughts. we were separated and in isolation, but none of us was alone. we were all understanding and understood. those of us that didn’t get infected by the virus, they were sure sick with its looming all around. the thing with this pandemic is that it clogs our minds before clinging to our lungs, and sometimes it fails to infect our bodies but it surely succeeds in disrupting our lives. at this point we just held our breaths and waited for April.

when April finally arrived, we were only faced with disappointment and there was no sign of getting out. some of us took hold of their pens and filled their papers till they ran out of notebooks. some of us stocked up on canvases and turned their homes into galleries. some of us read book after book while some could not turn a single page. some of us spent all their waking hours switching between bed and the couch running marathons on Netflix as an attempt to escape the reality of the rising numbers and gloomy predictions. many of us cleared our desks and sat there facing those inanimate screens that were the only form of contact we had with the world. all of a sudden a lifeless object fed our need for human contact; it kept us alive and sane behind those locked doors and between those lonely walls.

we said maybe Ramadan would be it. it would come and bring the airs of Heaven along with it. it came, it blessed our hearts and cleansed our souls, but it kept us home, praying in the solitude of our tiny rooms. we prayed like never before. millions of us, scattered across the globe, asking God for the same exact blessing in a hundred different languages. we whispered to the sky incessantly like birds chirping at the crack of dawn and went to sleep with surrendered hearts.

we kept holding our breaths with the hope that May would bring our release from our homes — those houses of ours that started to feel too small and suffocating for our arms and legs that yearned to stretch and move. May came and it only succeeded to dishearten and disappoint. do we have any more hope left for June? i think we need to stop holding our breath and just breathe in our safe homes and befriend our new close allies — our masks and gloves — until our collective human fate makes a turn for the good and sees the light of day at last…

1397 Days Later.


when i looked at the cloudy sky today,

i saw you smiling.
i closed my eyes in delight,
but i could still see the light.
my heart brimmed with love
like a cup filling from the ocean.
it connected me with you,
and with God, too.
now i feel a delicious togetherness;
an unceasing lovingness.
it comes from God,
and it has the shape of your smile.

My Love, İstanbul

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by Emre Gencer

I find myself a seat in the corner of a coffee shop; brown table, wood everywhere, the aroma of coffee and caramel filling the air. I place my book on the table or on my lap—either way my neck bends so low it aches after a few pages—and I lose myself in a different world, touching the pages as though caressing a lover. Recently I’ve been double-pretending; the first setting is that of the novel I’m reading, and the second is İstanbul. Wherever my body happens to be, my soul is nowhere but in İstanbul, all day and all night. This she-city; my loyal friend and my enchanting lover, my mind’s remedy and my heart’s home. I am under Her sky, my skin absorbing the life radiating from Her sun, my consciousness expanding in Her language, my feelings expressing themselves in Her tongue. İstanbul is the lover I never got to meet in the body of a human; She’s the beloved to whom all my love poems are about. İstanbul is both a manifestation of my soul and a being all on Her own. I don’t know where I end and She begins. I have never loved as fervently and wholeheartedly as I have fallen for Her. It is the waters that soften Her edges that are the blood that swirls in my body. It is the echoes of Her past with all its tragedies and triumphs that engulf me and make me believe that life is worth living, no matter how long it takes for it to feel like so. It is Her complexity, Her fascinating identity, Her secrets and hopes and memories that have slipped into a haze of amnesia that I most relate to… It is the voices of the souls that have taken Her as their home, both as a blessing and a curse, that fill my mind as I pretend that the corner I’m sitting in is on Her land, by one of Her flowing waters or in one of Her cafés. This is what keeps me thriving as I count the days to have Her air be the oxygen that kisses my lungs; to have the chirping of Her birds be the pleasant sound I wake up to in the morning and the flirtatious song of Her shores and rains that I go to sleep to at night.

Jealousy

jealousy in relationships. why? i don’t get it. loving someone is not owning them. loving someone is not stealing away their freedom. loving someone is not guarding them to the point of suffocation. from what i see around me, we have no idea what the true essence of love is. we think that loving is depending on someone entirely, when in reality, true love is independent. it does not weaken the lover to the point that his whole life is in the hand of his beloved. that’s an illusion. what that is is need, not love. unconditional love sees beyond all those things, and is so much simpler than we think. it desires no control; it lovingly yields freedom. it gives and keeps giving out of love, not out of expectation to receive. true love between two souls does not narrow their whole existence down to each other’s presence in each other’s lives. love is so much more spacious than that. you love another human, but you don’t die when they leave. you love them so preciously that you don’t put the weight of your whole life on their shoulders. that’s the filthiest form of “love”; so much so that i pity those relationships because their basis is fear cunningly disguising itself as love.

so, back to jealousy. love your person, don’t imprison them. they are a bird in the sky of their own lives, and you are the beholder with the admiring eyes. you are the music to their dance. you are meant to uplift them, not bring them down just because of your own fears. love your beloved like God loves you. He gave you freedom, choice, and individuality. just like that. don’t strip your beloved out of her freedom, her choices, her individuality. support her. cheer her on. and you too. support him. cheer him on. know your places in each other’s hearts, and don’t let insecurity steal away your peace. remember, this is a companionship of not just bodies and brains, but souls too. eternal souls. souls that see beyond judgment and love without attachment.

To Let The Body Feed Itself

by Thought Catalog

one day, i decided to drop everything i ever knew about food. i attempted to erase all the messed-up beliefs from my mind, and then i placed what remained due to repetitive engraving under the word ‘myth’ in my mind. the words ‘breakfast’, ‘lunch’, and ‘dinner’ were no longer in my vocabulary. time of day was no longer something to associate with food or consider when eating. out of overwhelming frustration and deep respect for this body that i have mistreated my whole life, i gently spoke to it and said, “when you’re hungry, tell me. and if i happened to be too busy to respond, please feel free to move and feed yourself what you know you need.”

i dropped the label ‘vegan’ from my shoulders; not with the intention of eating animal products, but with the intention of erasing all those red, restrictive lines that i had been confined into ever since i could eat and think, before even declaring myself vegan. i knew that my body was wise and not in need of another soul’s dead flesh to function.

i decided to listen to my body, not my mind; to eat out of requirement for fuel, not out of mindless habit; to eat for nourishment, not for taste that ends up as a balloon beneath my ribs; to move for life and clarity, not out of fear or self-hatred.

the strict regime of daily exercise was out the window with a relief washing over my relaxing muscles. the only movement i engaged in was the kind that my body chose without the interference of my mind. i found myself getting off the couch out of the blue to stretch and do some yoga on my mat, finding calmness in posing with my head on the ground and my feet to the sky. some afternoons my body felt energetic so i went on walks and let my legs jog when they felt like it and rest when they felt like it.

as the days and months passed, my body morphed into the shape and size that felt comfortable and healthy and didn’t stand on the way of my self-confidence. ever since that day in August, my relationship with myself and this marvelous body that i have been lovingly placed into has flourished beyond anything i’ve previously experienced. i feel at home, like i belong here; no longer stuck in a bag of flesh that’s too heavy — emotionally more so than physically — for me to carry.

upon this experience, i have come to the insight that yes, food is a joy, but one must be careful not to cross the thin line that turns it into a disease.

A Series of Seasons

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by Nathan Dumlao

i’m starting to understand that life composes itself in the form of a series of seasons. you go through phases in which your personality portrays attributes and behaviors and beliefs and emotions which ultimately aim to expand your soul and fulfill its earthly purpose with the lessons you come out with. some seasons are harder and darker, while others are smoother and carry winds of serenity and peace — and only the wise of us can combine both, maintaining the innate and ceaseless peace of their spirit as they tackle the unpleasant circumstances in their outer world that are but reflections of their inner subconscious workings. i think that there’s no such thing as a mistake, no such thing as time wasted, and definitely no such thing as a bad person. we are made up of dualities and we have the innate ability to embody the exact opposite of what we are at the moment. by that i mean that one cannot value the magic of joyfulness without knowing the misery of sadness; that one cannot display genuine kindness and compassion without having witnessed or been an embodiment of anger and cruelty even in the smallest scale like a loss of temper or a slip of the tongue; and that one cannot possibly have a presence of peace and serenity and an attitude of equanimity without having been through the kind of deep suffering that seals itself with immortal divine wisdom.

in essence, we play the role of a canvas; we are the sky whose blueness is exposed by the light of sun, and whose darkness is revealed by the absence of it. our bodies are the vehicle through which our soul manifests itself; and our lives are the screen on which the movie of our minds is constantly playing — all to fulfill the sole purpose of soul expansion through a human experience.

Crossroads

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by Leo Berne

what if i dropped out of uni
and had all the time in the world
to do all the things i want to do?

what if i had all the means and connections
to bring to life all those amazing ideas i have?

what if i read from dawn to dusk
and wrote tens of poems throughout
and poured thousands of words into a novel
and had a great record of success under my name?

what if i had the freedom to travel the world
and stay as much as my heart desired,
created art out of my days
and eterneties out of my moments?

would i be happy then?
completely fulfilled?
not at all distressed?
without a speck of regret
for not earning a college degree?

is it really truly
one’s experienced wisdom
and inventive ideas
that lead them to legitimate success?

or is it a paper falsely valued as proof
of intelligence and expertise based off
memorized textbooks and daunting stress?

i just can’t reason with this world.
and i am ashamed and disheartened
and eaten up by self-pitying gloom
for not having the courage
to take a stand for myself
and do what i know is right for me to pursue.