|Sofia by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey|
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
As I packed recently for a ten day trip to Turkey, I dedicated one carry-on bag to a few (okay, maybe more than a few) books I needed to read for my dissertation literature review. My husband looked at me incredulously and asked, “are you really going to read those on this trip?” I said, “of course!” I was actually not sure, but I put the intention out in the universe hoping I would find the motivation and energy.
It was an amazing cross-county excursion with jam-packed days of touring major sights in Istanbul, Izmir, Cappadocia, Konya, Ephesus, and Urfa and yet, at the end of each day and long van rides, somehow I did find the energy to focus for a bit to read and write. One very opportune day came when we took a 10 hour bus ride that was supposed to be 7 hours. I knew this was one occasion when I would have no choice but to sit for hours. In her excellent book Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, Joan Bolker shared that when she worked at Harvard’s Writing Center they joked “that the single most useful piece of equipment for a writer was a bucket of glue. First you spread some on your chair, and then you sit down.” What better glue than to be on a moving bus for hours?
Although some of my travel companions were not happy about this long ride, I was ecstatic! When you have a busy work and home life with 2 small children and an aging parent to attend to, there is no such thing as being able to sit for so many hours. I am grateful to Turkey for not only giving me the best 10 hour sit down and focus opportunity, but also for the amazing food, historical perspective and an eye opening experience that proved to me that there is no such thing as “mainstream media” reporting only violence and protests in Turkey and not the regular, friendly, and peaceful day to day life that I actually experienced. Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone, travel and see things for yourself. I came back to the U.S. a better person with inspiration and many more pages toward a dissertation completed.
So in my terrible Turkish accent, “Türkiye Teşekkür ederim!” - translation: “Thank You Turkey!”