İstanbul

had it been up to me, i would have booked a flight three hours after my last final exam, and a reluctant return flight on the Saturday night before the first Sunday of the new semester. with a heart flying like a glorious white bird, i would leave the obligations of university behind and embark on my journey back into myself, free in every sense of the word.

but it isn’t up to me; i’m still too young for such a luxury, and i accept it.

the different thing about this vacation is that it’s only 10 days in my favorite city. usually we stay longer than that. this shortness with its fleeting moments has inspired me with the idea to spend my days here really here, not in other places through this screen. i’ve vowed to the birds dancing over the Bosphorus to live my moments in this city without staining them with wishes and nostalgias, and i’ve vowed to the ebb and flow of the Sea of Marmara to keep myself open to the inspiration that will rain on me from this serene İstanbul sky.

with a novel whose writer makes İstanbul as much a part of his characters as their hearts and minds, and with a passionate urge to get my hands on every Turkish book translated into English that my eyes know they’ll never see in the shelves of the bookshops back home, i roam through the city and let its winds, its sounds, its scents, encompass me like a hug.


photos by İlker Yılmaz

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.

Bereaved

by Noah Silliman

i’m happy and i’m sad
i’m in gratitude and in gloom

my best friends — words, poetry, creativity,
have flown this withering town of my reality
and made their homes far away in the land of my dreams

there’s no telepathy that could connect me to them

they command that i leave everything here
and flee just as they have

but i can’t
i’m too small
too sacred
too alone

to take such a long flight away from home
even if this home is too far from heaven
and dangerously close to hell

Coming Home

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by Victorien Amelin

i don’t know who i am. i don’t know what i want. i can’t tell if my desires are real. i can’t even distinguish the chatter of my mind from the whispers of my soul. it’s the end of the year, and i feel like a part of me is being chipped away. i’m losing something. or maybe i’m subconsciously giving it away. i know that change is good, and evolving is wonderful, but the thing is that i’m not sure if that’s what’s actually happening to me. my hands are itching to grab a pen and write. but something’s holding me back. i’m afraid. i’m afraid of the moment when my flow of consciousness comes to a halt and there are no more words to write. and the funny thing is that i have somewhat been in that state of writelessness for the majority of the year. i’ve forced myself to carry on with a certain writing project that’s taken the joy and spontaneity of writing out of my soul. i haven’t woken up in the middle of the night with a poem bubbling to vapor into words for many many nights. i haven’t been in that timeless realm of pouring words and creating worlds in what feels like forever. words feel far away from me. i’ve somehow betrayed them by making myself stick to them in a particular manner to continue the project i’ve set for myself. and i can’t stop writing for it until the last day of the year or else i would have failed. i would have failed myself, my own promise, and i would have set myself up to the curse of incompletion for all the projects i will take on in my life. i need to finish it to show myself that i can. i need to finish it to tell the universe that i am a woman of her word. i need to finish it to have evidence in my mind that i finish what i start. it’s disrupting my usual flow of writing, and i know that whatever i’m writing isn’t authentic and creative as what i usually write is. but at this point, i am doomed to reaching the destination rather than enjoying the journey. i’m aware of how miserable and counterproductive that is, but i am learning. i’ve learned to set my goals realistically. i’ve learned to never again put myself in a system that forces me to write in a specific way every day of an entire year. it’s draining. it’s burdensome. and that just cuts the delicate thread of inspiration and leaves me breathless and lost. i’ve learned to see writing as being rather than doing — as something i am rather than something i do. and i think that all this suffering and frustration of the past months was worth it for me to arrive at this marvelous insight.

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.

The Recovery Phase

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by Shadman Sakib

i am in the recovery phase.

i fell and shattered and took a turn to a decision that elicited more fear in me than peace, and that smelled more of wrongness than rightness, and that felt too early than in the best possible time. the decision was to drop out of university at the age of eighteen, before even finishing my first year, and with no guaranteed plan for my coming days, let alone my years.

at the exact middle of the week, i faced the reality that having no purpose in life and nothing to fill my mornings with was not the way i wanted to spend my days, so i put the gear on reverse and spurred back to the decision-making district. i accepted the fact that even if i struggled through the coming three years, it would be more peaceful than suffering through purposelessness and floating in the sickening skies of uncertainty. the path of university has a guaranteed end to it, while the latter is plagued with foggy nothingness and fear. lots of fear. so i took the decision to carry on with my studies.

now it’s the end of the week and my mind is up in the sky, testing the cloud of the state i would currently be in had i remained in the same state of mind as i’d been in during the start of the week, and feeling utter relief and gratitude for lounging in the fluffy cloud of having done the right thing. hence, i refer to this as the recovery stage; i’m here, in the better position, but i can’t stop thinking about the mistake i would have made and the position i would be in at the moment had i carried on with it.

Three Years

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Pinterest

1096 days later. three years ago today, on the 4th of October of 2015, was a Sunday with a stark, pale, sorrowfully silent sunrise. amidst the hazy white hospital walls, my eyes fell on the clock at 6:31 — the numbers that haunted me for months and years that felt more like an eternity with every stretching second. on this damned day 1096 sunrises and sunsets ago, you left this earth and left us bereaved, broken, and without the hope of ever being whole and complete again. it’s not your fault — that i know. it’s not anyone’s fault — that, too, i know. but i’m not going to deny ever feeling seething rage at God, at myself, at life itself. there was no way to reason with this damned cycle of life in which a creature is nearing its death with every breath. it’s this unstoppable cycle that strikes with overwhelming shock rather than acceptance since it’s been happening for millennia that i just simply couldn’t accept. us humans can never get used to pain that comes with shock. we only make our homes in its aftermath — but the first strike, the first pang of indescribable pain.. that stays foreign and keeps striking with every thought, every breath.

still to this day, my eyes lifelessly freeze in place and my mind shrinks into itself and bleeds and my skin loses its color every time i’m suddenly struck with the reality that you’re not in one of the rooms of this house, that you’re not breathing the oxygen i’m inhaling in this earth. it’s even worse when i see someone that reminds me of you; a girl with pure pale skin, skinny arms and a translucently innocent face. desperate tears roll down my cheeks, but i don’t really feel them because my whole body loses sensation at the shock that i’m living again for the umpteenth time since you’ve been gone.