We went to the beach today. After a long winter and strange spring, summer has finally arrived. Today was 34 degrees and a few days from now it will hit 38. We will experience a little heat wave for the next week and what better place to wait it out but at the beach. Now that my daughter is older and I do not have to stay constantly glued to her side, meaning I can sit in the water cooling myself whilst she splashes me or eats an ice cream on a sun chair, I have become a beach addict. I have been to the beach more in the past month then I had been in the last year. I love the salty sea and the cool breeze, I especially love the sand and rocks. I rub the sand over my hands and feet, legs and arms, I would rub it over my face if I didn’t think that afterwards I would look like a human tomato. Sand is the best exfoliate in the world in my opinion but not only that, after I walk along the beach in my bare feet, I feel innumerably better. I have this theory that as I walk along pressing my feet into those miniscule broken up rocks, I am hitting all of the pressure points in my feet. The small pebbles are even better, being that they are harder and larger than the soft sand. I love those pebbles. It takes me ages to get down the short beaches here because I am obsessed with rock collecting. Rocks are amazing. The colors, the textures, the consistencies. I have a huge basket of rocks and it is almost full. Every time I return from the beach I make sure to clean out my beach bag and purse of rocks. I once went into town with my daughter and wondered why my handbag was so heavy until I prised it open and found a huge rock which must have weighed at least a pound or two. I have always loved the beach really whether it was a beach on the Med or a jut of sand on a fresh water lake but I didn’t grow up near a beach so I am just getting used to living a beach lifestyle.
I have to say that the lifestyle in general in Southern Turkey is fantastic. The natural setting is gorgeous, the people are friendly, the food is amazing, the society is safe and there is not too much to complain about, but I am not sure if this is my ‘place’ in the world. I say that now, because I have been pondering it lately, mostly because I cannot seem to make friends here. I did have a couple of friends previously but both of them picked up sticks leaving me physically friendless. I have one person I would call a friend, but she is local and like a normal person, already has established friendships so her time although generously offered, is limited. A few months back, I happened, on separate occasions, to meet two ladies whom I thought were friend material. They both had kids and similar situations to me. They were both without family by their sides and had husbands who worked strange (think all) hours. Over the past few months we met up weekly or every few weeks but it soon became apparent that unless I contacted them, they would not contact me. I know that if I got in touch with one of them today, she would happily arrange a playdate with my daughter and hers, but the other one has completely blanked me. As for the first one, I am not going to chase someone to be my friend. It takes two to tango and if she cannot feel the beat then fair enough. I am not going to be like some over enthusiastic nerd on the dancefloor at junior prom wildly swinging around the first girl ever to dance with him. If someone never makes the first move then it is probably because they are not moved to be your friend. Fair enough. As for the other one, I actually felt very hurt for a few days after I realised that she was shutting down our connection. Not only because I thought that we did connect well and had a fun time together, or because I thought she was a very nice, kind, decent person, or because I can’t figure out why she has flipped the switch from on to off, but because she never told me why. I thought about this every hour of every day for those few days until I realised that the why was me.
I realise that I have major differences to the norm. For one, I am straightforward. Straightforward to a fault. I can’t seem to put things any other way. To me communicating in a direct manner is actually compassionate and polite. There is no need to preface or pad anything. Just the facts will do. Experience has shown me that most people do not take easily to this manner of communication. Most people fear the truth as much as they fear death. At this point in my life I fear neither, but I do fear lies, lies and taxes. I guess I figure that to skirt around an issue is to lie. One of my earliest memories is of my Mum on the phone to a friend, telling her a huge porky. In my four year old brain, I remember thinking: all adults are liars. It wasn’t even that my Mum was being malicious, in fact she was being kind; sparing the other person the cold hard truth lest she upset her. I thought this was horrendous. I thought that not being truthful was a waste of time. The person on the end of the line would go on deluding themselves eternally, if no one ever told them the truth. Better to just say it out loud and have them be upset for a short while than to withhold it and have them hamster-wheel their life away. For me the truth is always the catalyst for change and change is life. Those who do not embrace change die or at least live shallow, inauthentic lives.
Another trait I have, is that I can be construed as cold. I am not really cold, just like I am not really mean even though my brain and mouth do not have a ‘frame it’ filter, but I look at the world and my life in certain terms. I remember going to see a therapist once, who after a few sessions told me that I lived my life like I was seeing it all through a video camera. I remember looking at her bewildered. Didn’t everyone experience life like that? I mean, aren’t we all just little sparks of God stuck inside this 3D world, experiencing ourselves experiencing ourselves? As I get older I just get worse as this point of view becomes more entrenched in my psyche. My favorite affirmation is “Take no notice.” I got it from a book written by Osho wherein he tells a story of a lady who visits a Zen master and asks: “Master, how can I reach enlightenment?”. The Master replies: “Take no notice.”. The lady goes home to find her husband in a right tizzy. He tells her: “The cow has died! The cow has died!”. She just looks at him and says: “Take no notice.”. Time passes and another day her husband comes to her and says: “The house is on fire! The house is on fire!”. The woman upon seeing the burning building simply says: “Take no notice.”. More time passes and on another day still, her husband comes to her and says: “Our son has drown! Our son has drown!”. The woman looks at her husband and says: “Take no notice.”. In that moment the woman reaches enlightenment.
A few weeks ago, I was at a different beach from today with my daughter and some friends of ours. We were chatting, the children were playing and we were enjoying the day. All of a sudden, from a group of people in the water came a chorus of ‘Imdat, imdat!’ which translated for meaning means ‘Help, help!’. Apparently, there was a young man under the water and although the strongest swimmer in the group was diving for him, he needed help. Other strong swimmers dove into the water answering their call, until the lifeguards from the adjoining hotel arrived and swiftly located the young man. As they dragged his lifeless body to the shore, we took the oldest children to the nearby park, leaving the sleeping baby and her father at the scene. Many minutes later a noisy ambulance arrived and a few more minutes later it departed silent, no need for any siren. The siren call of one life had been extinguished.
I remember driving near Epping Forest with my uncle. By the side of the road was a buck lying prone. Its large majestic head rose up to meet a man approaching it. The man pulled up the rifle he was holding, placed it upon the bucks head and pulled the trigger. I let out a gasp and covered my eyes with my hands. My uncle said to me: “The deer was hurt and they had no choice but to put it down. Just forget about it and put it out of your mind.”. But I couldn’t and I can’t. I sometimes see that deer in the video tape of my mind. I see it just like I now see the young man. Just like I see a cat I saw get hit by a truck, its body thrown into the air convulsing until a shot of blood escaped out of its mouth and it lay dead on the road. I see all sorts of witnessed horrors replayed in my mind and I feel every second of those memories, but instead of shy away from it, I relive it. I relive it and acknowledge it and let its truth wash over me. I meet the truth straight on. The truth that life is cruel and meaningless and visceral must be acknowledged but it also must not be revelled in because the next step is to simply take no notice of it all. If I do not chose to let these things go then I cannot enjoy the other swing of the pendulum. The truth that life is beautiful and meaningful and sensual. I cannot go to the same beach where I saw a life taken and decide to pay homage to that young man by experiencing each moment deeply and lovingly. Most people would never go back to that beach. Most people would try to delete that memory file so as to never have to revisit it again. Most people would not chose to speak about it or write about it, they would just choose to forget about it. I am not most people and so it is okay that I cannot seem to make friends here and now at this point in my life. Maybe I have evolved into a truth monger that everyone just wishes would shut up. Maybe I am too much for those who want to remain cloaked in their own sleepy ignorance. That is fine for them but not for me. That is not what my life story has been about and not where it is going.
A few months ago my father-in-law accidentally left open one of the gates to the feed area for his cows. The milking cow, who happened to be pregnant and obviously hungry, followed the whiff of food to the feed bags. She proceeded to chew open a bag and eat its entire contents. By the time my mother-in-law went back into the enclosure and found the cow laying down in pain from its swollen belly, it was too late. The vet recommended a mercy killing and before someone could carry it out, mercifully nature did the job. My in-laws called my husband to inform him and when he got off the phone, he turned to me and said: “The cow died!”. Immediately, the words ‘take no notice’ popped into my head. I didn’t reach enlightenment in that moment but I have yet to give up hope.