Returning to Arrive

With practically the entire world open to me to visit & experience, I have now returned to three places I have been to previously (ParisScotland, and Istanbul.)

Eminönü, Istanbul

I am currently in Istanbul. I had been here almost nine years ago as well. I had come in August of 2004 as my time as a linguist in the United States Army was coming to a close. The weather, here in Istanbul currently, has been moody & melancholy as has kind of been my own mood. I had met up with a good friend here whom I had not seen in almost nine years – and who just happened to be from that part of my life when certain things were coming to a close.

I am a huge proponent of moving forward and of not looking back and of embracing change. But what I have learned is that one must look back not only to move forward, but in order to advance & progress – To grow we must learn from the past. And how can we learn from the past if we do not revisit it?

I had not chosen Istanbul for this trip consciously with any intention other than I already had the time off and it was the most convenient place to meet up with my friend. In fact, during this time off I was supposed to be running a half marathon in Germany but due to a knee injury these few days off were open for other plans. As I look back now I had not consciously chosen to visit Paris or Scotland either – It was most definitely an unconscious decision. What I am realizing now is that all three destinations even though unconsciously chosen, definitely had a purpose.

I’ve mentioned before that Edinburgh & Paris are my two favorite cities in the whole wide world. And I hold to that – I will always love these two cities. Both places hold unbelievably sentimental, romantic, and tender memories.  I know, as a logical intelligent person, one can not return to a time (perhaps that is why I am obsessed with anything time-travel?) but what one can do is return to a place. And that is what I chose to do – be it consciously or unconsciously. At different times in my life Scotland & Paris represented two very significant but different people in my life – Both who are in my past but who never truly received the proper closure & good-byes they should have. As I look back now to this past November & December when I was making my way from Saudi Arabia to Paris, to Edinburgh, and to the Highlands of Scotland, what I was in fact doing was saying good-bye in my own way. Saying good-bye to something intangible – I was saying good-bye to my own ghosts. Because regardless of how often or how forcibly or stubbornly I buried, covered up, or brushed aside these ghosts, they demanded I confront them by returning to them to say good-bye. For only then could these ghosts release me to be able to arrive into the person I am going to be.

I am far from what I once was but not yet what I am going to be.” ~ Author unknown.

Instanbul, Kapalıçarş
Instanbul, Kapalıçarş (Grand Bazaar)

So I as sit in a Turkish café, drinking Turkish coffee, eating baklava, and awaiting my flight back to Saudi Arabia, I reflect back on this short trip and I am consciously aware of the good-bye I am saying now. I am saying good-bye to the scariest ghost of all… that of my own ghost. I realize that what has been haunting me, that even the good-bye’s (though much needed and definitely part of the process) in Paris & Edinburgh were not able to put to ground, is my own demon-ghost. I am saying good-bye to the ghost of me. Almost nine years ago I was practically sitting in this same exact spot literally – I was wounded, scared, insecure, self-conscious, worried what others thought & perceived of me, out of one relationship and in a desperate pitiful search for another one. And in my own wounded glory back then, and so unaware of my surroundings, I did not even realize the magic of this city.

I believe this is what they mean by being in the moment.

Istanbul, Sultanahmet Blue Mosque
Istanbul, Sultanahmet Blue Mosque

I have been fortunate in that I have the means and the opportunity to revisit these places. I have been very fortunate in many ways in life. I feel as I have not only revisited a place but as if I have actually revisited a time (yes, in the end I always attempt to link everything to time-travel.) And I have put a certain time to rest and in turn I have opened up the possibility of new time. A new time for the arrival of me. There is a saying that an experience or a setting or a certain type of person will keep showing up in one’s life until the lesson is learned that this particular experience/setting/person is supposed to teach us. I’m an intelligent person, sometimes, though, I don’t always get the lesson the first time around. Sometimes it takes a couple (or 3 or 7) times for me to get it. Sometimes it takes a revisiting across continents (hey, I’ve always been an on a grand-scale type of person) for me to get it. What I’m trying to say is that I got it and that I’ve made room for better things to arrive. Anybody can do it because we all have ghosts – One just has to be aware of them and be courageous enough to acknowledge them and brave enough to put them to rest.

26 Comments »

    • Thank you, Sarah. I’m glad you found this encouraging. It was cathartic for me to write it. I’m also realizing making room & time in the blogasphere has opened so much and brought so much good into my life – I am so glad I can contribute (be it small or big) back.

    • Dallas, I am on Cloud-Nine with that compliment coming from YOU! Thank you so much. I agree with you because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give us the confidence to follow our hearts…even when it leads us off the well worn path (I believe Steve Jobs said something close to that.)

    • Thank you, my Nuray Hala. I know it seems like yesterday we were driving around Lincoln Square in the wee hours of the night (morning?) but don’t forget, haha, some time has passed since those days. We all grow, We change. We evolve. I’ve been a work in progress for a long time – I thank you for always being there for me during the entire metamorphosis.. I love you too.

  1. I share your passion for Edinburgh … Paris and I love/hate each other and I have never been in Istanbul, but I have been checking it out today. I’m one of those that just land and start embrace my destination. The only place I didn’t agree with straight away was when I moved to Belfast, but it only took a couple of weeks for us to grow together – and living in Dover I hated every minute of it.
    This is a fantastic post … I understand that you have been living on many different places too. It’s the people we me that opens the destination for us.

  2. Well, I am lucky to have known you in that time period of nine years ago….And truly lucky I am that I met a phenomenal, intelligent, inspirational, and loyal friend. Love ya.

  3. What a lovely, reflective and pensive post Tahira! I am glad to be a part of your present and look forward to also being there in your future! 😉 If you figure out the time travel part, I have a few repeat lessons that I could ask you to pass on to MY future self to save her a bit of time and trouble, since I’m sure she’s still hanging out with you …;) xo Rufina

  4. I enjoyed very much reading this and totally understand what you are saying. I love when you talk about going back to move forward and I must remember this quote, too. “I am far from what I once was but not yet what I am going to be.” ~ Author unknown Thank you.

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