“Your problems are still ahead of you,” he said pensively, staring intently into the brown mass in his hands. “The depression runs quite deep.” He turned the tiny coffee cup towards me and showed me something that looked, well, like a pile of poo. “Right now you’re in a very positive place though.”

That wasn’t really a surprise, given that I was sitting in the blazing morning sun in the middle of a gorgeous park in Istanbul, on the first day of my first vacation since starting my “real” job.

My couchsurfing host was about to take me on a whirlwind tour of tourist-free Istanbul, starting with the aforementioned massive park, then a walk along the Bosphorus river, followed by a ferry to the Asian side and the “town” of Kadikoy, then a night of drinking and reggae music in the heart of Taksim.

And that was just one day.

Istanbul was a super quick, but incredibly colorful trip, one that made me feel like my body and mind finally reconnected again and I could actually feel and experience things fully rather than just observing them from a distance. 

Something that I wasn’t sure I would write about but it fits with the previous sentiment: I’ve always been bad at photos, but seeing the few photos that other people took of me on this trip was a horrendous wake-up call. They are so much worse than before. I’m inevitably positioned at an awkward angle, my body somehow tensed up and turned to make me look as wide as possible, my attempt at a smile coming across as a painful grimace, the entire image being one of a person with absolutely zero self-confidence and awareness of their body. This is a big part of me losing contact with anything except sitting in front of a computer for the past 5 months, and it needs to change quickly. 

My host’s reading, by the way, was spot on. He said I’d have a lot of professional success, and when I came back from my holiday I got a permanent contract at work. Hooray!

But I also came back with a gnawing sense of restlessness. I have a desperate desire to travel, and not just for weekend trips. I need to immerse myself in new environments, interact with new cultures, explore, get lost, meditate. It’s the only time I really feel alive. It’s the only time I feel like there’s a purpose to all of this.

It’s so easy to get stuck in routine, and not realize how stuck you are until you escape for a second. And once you come back, the routine gently enfolds you and slowly sucks you back in, creeping up around you until you find yourself right back in the mental fog and don’t even notice. 

 Well, that got depressing quickly. I guess we’ve come full circle. Here are some Istanbul photos to bring us back up again:

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About Varia

Traveler, writer.
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