I had just wrapped a four-week stay in Europe; I worked in Barcelona and 4 cities in Italy. I was doing what I love most: leading exercise, educating instructors, and promoting the growth of my business.
I was fascinated with each place I visited; surrounded by ancient design and nurtured with old-world hospitality. I ate homemade traditional meals, and while I often stumbled through the basics of foreign languages – I was still met with patient and friendly faces. Although I worked every day, I also slept late and I ate cookies. My general pace of life had slowed… and instead of feeling guilty, I felt revitalized – it’s the European way… and I like it.
My last night was in Trestevere – essentially the Greenwich Village of Rome. It feels familiar to me, a home I’ve never actually lived in. I’ve been there about a dozen times, always returning to my favorite shops, restaurants and people. I was sitting with my dog, Foxy Brown, and enjoying my last glass of wine at a cafe, when I received a text that my flights home (scheduled for the following morning) had been cancelled. Lufthansa was on strike.
I’ll spare you the details – but all in all – two extra hotel nights, and days of shuffling between airport terminals. It took me three days to return home.
Terrible? No, not terrible. I mean, really – with the state of the world the way it is? This was as annoying as the fly that keeps buzzing, or a video rebuffering.
However, it was a stark reminder that I wasn’t on US soil, and the rules that I was raised with didn’t apply here. For the first time in four weeks, I felt vulnerable and far away from home.
And, already – it’s time to be vulnerable again. This morning, I boarded one of six flights which I’ll take over the next 2 days. SIX? Yep – I managed this trip in an affordable way – no – not at all glamorous. I’m going to a wedding, though – for a dear a dear friend in India, then to visit another friend and learn life in Ahmedabad. I’ll teach at a conference, and then spend seven 8-hour days lecturing… in Istanbul.
Istanbul – this finally brings me to the point of my article. I was there only once before – and I fell in love. The people, the food, the citywide daily call for prayer – all unexpectedly captured me… and to be honest – I can’t wait to return. It will be the highlight of all my travel this year.
To save a bit of money – in order to get to India for the wedding on Thursday, I flew today (Tuesday) through Istanbul (total 18 hours) – and then ill take more flights to Jaipur (17 hours). So, I’ll be in Turkey in just a day from now.
Well, this morning, I woke to a text from a friend. She told me of the news I hadn’t heard yet; the Turkish military had shot down a Russian aircraft, which (once again) had violated Turkish airspace.
So – where does this leave me? Now I feel like I’m traveling further away than I ever have before. Foreign soil, and a close up view of wartime. Well, at least as close as I ever hope to be.
I messaged two dear friends in Istanbul – wishing them safety, and then I boarded my first flight – the beginning of the journey which will take me into Istanbul by tomorrow.
I’m in-flight as I ask myself: am I doing the right thing? Should I be “smart” and reschedule my life?
Being who I am, I couldn’t help but make the ironic connection: it’s our USA “Turkey Day” – Our Thanksgiving Day which signifies gratitude for all that “God” has provided us. Recognizing the feast, the cornucopia – an overflowing of goodness. This day born though a group of pilgrims who stormed the coast of a landmass, and took the territory that belonged to the Native Americans.
And here I go, off to Turkey – a country busy defending its territory. No one knows how this military altercation will progress, although was I watch CNN in-flight, I learn that Vladimir Putin vows “serious consequences”.
Good God, the irony.
I want to share this story, because it’s too significant for me not to put into writing.
There’s no moral. It’s just my story.
And, in my story, I’m giving thanks: I’m thankful for the life I’ve been given. I’m thankful for the freedom and comfort I have in the US, and the push I’ve been given to exercise my rights, and create the life I dream of. My cup has truly overflowed with goodness. I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to share my gifts with the world, and create a life of adventure for myself. And, although I’m thankful for this journey, I look forward to returning home to my family and friends and Miss Foxy Brown.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends and family! Enjoy your Turkey, and I will too! And, whomever you are, reader, and wherever you live, take a moment to think about your life; your dreams, your loved ones, and protecting the territory, your territory that you’ve learned to love.