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Taking compassion on the road

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

I am about to embark on an adventure.

In twelve days, I plan to depart from the JFK airport in New York City, USA and fly across the pond (as my British friends might say) to Paris, France. Arrival is 6:55 am. I will spend one night in a "green" Hostel and then... fly away.

"Why," you might ask, "are you only in Paris for one over night?" "Well," I might answer, "It's like this..." I have a lot of "True Blue" flyer miles. Paris is not my destination, though Jet Blue will get me half way to my destination for $5.60. And, though Paris is not my destination, I may want to rest for a night after flying eight hours, through a five-hour time change.

I may not want to rest. I may want to do something touristy, like see the Eifel tower. TripAdvisor lists this activity five times out of their top 10 sights to see in Paris. Following the advice of TripAdvisor does not sound like me. I'm not much of a touristy kind of person. Then again, it is the Eifel tower!

I might want to let life unfold. Maybe I'll meet someone on the plane and we'll want to walk along the Seine River. Seine River activities are listed on that same TripAdvisor list... twice, in the first 10 things you must do. And again, multiple times, as the must-do list continues. Again, I'm not touristy. But, I do love water. And I do enjoy walking. And, it is the Seine River!

Or... food. That's a thing anywhere, and... well, Paris! Do I not love all things butter and cream? Is that not a Parisian thing? Am I not salivating right now just typing these words?

Or, I might want to rest. At some point, Ima wanna rest. And a bed is built into my plan. It's a bed in a room with three other women so... yeah, I may not end up resting as much as I think I will. But... sleep. I miss it already.

And then, I'll fly to Istanbul, for two nights. "Why, Ami," you might ask, "why Istanbul? And why only two nights?" Well, I was in Istanbul in May. And it was Istanbul that broke me out of my comfort zone. It will be both an honoring of that experience and now, a comfort to be there. And Istanbul is on the way to my destination. And two nights because... I need two there. I cannot wait.

There are three things I must do.

I want to explore the underground city in Fatih. That's where I'll be staying... in an Airbnb in Fatih. When I flew back to NYC, USA in May, on the train, a young woman sitting in front of me with her little daughter, overhearing my conversation, turned around and said, "Are you talking about Turkey? I love Istanbul!" She shined the most luminous smile I've ever seen and told me she'd had dental work in Istanbul... for the past year, traveling back and forth to complete the mouth-full of tooth implants she now possessed. She stood up, came over, and showed me a picture on her phone of this underground city and, well, I guess that vision and the idea of seeing it has been brewing in me.

And then there's the Hamami, a traditional Turkish bath, where I would once again like to roast in a huge sauna full of women until the perfect temperature water and the most elastic sudsy bubbles are suddenly thrown on me, and I'm scrubbed, top to bottom, back to front, and then given a completely delicious, therapeutic massage. Yes, that.

And then there's another roasting. Roasted green olives. I cannot explain with words what happened in my mouth with each bite of this uniquely prepared olive. I just know I want it again. And sooner than later.

And then, I fly to my destination: Tashkent, Uzbekistan. "Why, Ami," you might ask, "why is your final destination Uzbekistan?" Well, my friends, this is where the best part comes in.

The best part is... my son and his wife. My son is married. That in itself is mind boggling. And yet, I saw them, together, in Turkey. That's why I went there. It was there and then I met my new daughter-in-law for the first time. First time in the flesh. Second time if you count a Zoom call. One Zoom call. One incredibly fantastic, joyful Zoom call. And now (then, in May) I was looking at her face, her hair, her clothes, looking into her eyes, hugging her, holding her, hearing her, sensing her. She was real, and I loved her in an instant. And now, I want to see where she grew up. I want to meet her friends. I want to meet her mom and dad and younger brother and even younger sister.

When I was in Turkey in May, I watched them - my son and his wife. I sensed how they moved around each other, how they were comfortable together, how they fit together. It was stunning. I don't think I'd met a couple who were so well suited. So now, I'll get to be with them again. And meet her family. That feels important.

Something else I learned in Turkey, while hanging out with "the kids" (my son, his wife, and their friends), is that, if you have a US or UK passport, you can pretty much travel anywhere in the world. This is not so in other countries, though. This is not so, for example, in Uzbekistan.

My kids (my son and his now wife) have been trying to procure a visa for my (now) daughter-in-law so they can come back to the states, and, it is not easy. It is, in fact, downright difficult. My daughter (Ima just skip over the in-law thing and call her my daughter now) came to the US on an "exploratory" visa, once. She was allowed to travel to the US once, only once. And now, years later, married, the visa process drags on.

So, I figure, while they're still there, and because her family will not be able to visit the states, I will visit them, in Uzbekistan.

I can barely wait.

I will visit for nine days. When I asked the kids how long my visit should be, they said: "ten days." It was very specific, and the answer was delivered without hesitation. It makes me laugh, even now. I thought "a nine-day visit will be nice for them." One day less than what they stated feels respectful.

Then, I fly back to Istanbul, Turkey. I don't know where I'll stay yet, or for how long. I don't know by which means I'll leave Turkey, and where I'll venture next. I just know things will unfold. Somehow, I know this is the right thing for me to do. Somewhere inside, I believe I'll get a Eurail pass and move about for a few to six months. Somewhere inside is the idea that I'll lead workshops and retreats in different communities, and collaborate with beautiful new friends I haven't met yet. Something brewing in my heart and soul knows something that my brain has not fully wrapped itself around. Somehow, I know this is the beginning of taking The Compassionate Revolution on the road.

Even though I know, intuitively, in my heart, in Soul and Spirit, that I'm stepping onto the right path, still, the path is an adventure. By definition, "adventure" as a noun is: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. As a verb, "to adventure" is to: engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory. I am stepping into unusual and unknown territory. the "hazard" part is intimidating. Either way, noun or verb, this travel plan I'm embarking upon is eliciting excitement and terror.

Stay in touch as the adventure unfolds.

taking my hand
Come, adventure with me...

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"Wherever you go, becomes a part of you somehow." Anita Desai

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Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your adventure.

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