here, there, everywhere

Four Years Old Again

There are so many things that distract me these days, so many things that require thought, planning, decision-making.   In the last year when there were so many funerals, hurt and confused friends; all I wanted was for things to be simple again.  Simple was being four years-old when the biggest decision of the day was which toy to play with, and the biggest argument was fighting with mom over my bedtime.  Why did we stop being simple in its purest form, and when did this change happen?  At what age was it deemed unacceptable to take time out and play?

It was our last night in Turkey, and we were in the border town of Dogubeyzit waiting to head into Iran.  Jim and I decided to climb up the side of the mountain and walk around the two thousand year old ruins.  After a five minutes stroll from the restaurant, we arrived at one of the old lookout towers and found Arnout checking out the site.  There was another Turkish gentleman up there with his hunting rifle and after saying ‘hello’, quietly left and continued on his own adventure.  The three of us sat down at the edge of the tower and started talking about the trip and how it had gone so far.  First it revolved around the food and who was the best cook.  After listing off almost everybody on the truck, Arnout reached the conclusion that we had been fed pretty well.  Then the conversation turned to the night two days ago when we were rough-camping and the temperature dipped well below zero.  Undoubtedly that was a cold night for everybody and there wasn’t much sleep that night.  In the morning a few members of the group decided that it was necessary to buy some warmer gear in case we hit that kind of temperature again.  While we were talking about the last six weeks, we were all three idly throwing pebbles over the tower and watching them fall to the ground 50m below.  Then we fell silent for a bit as the sun set over the village and the ruins of Ishak Pasa.  It wasn’t the most stunning sunset ever witnessed, but it was beautiful and soon the twinkling lights of village dotted the valley.  The next day we would be leaving for Iran and the mood was shifting to one of something more than just anticipation.  It was as if we all realized that things would be changing, the trip would be taking a different direction from now on.  The six weeks leading up to this evening had been amazing, a sort of holiday despite the location.  The people we had met were gracious, warm, hospitable, and we had seen things of incredible beauty, things that some only ever dream about.  It is a rare time when people can look back and say ‘that was amazing’ and at the same time look forward and say ‘I can hardly wait’.  It is being caught up completely in the moment and in just being alive.  The things around you are brighter, sharper, you hear everything and smells are more intense.

After the sun set, we sat up there for a little while longer until it was time to go join the group for dinner.  We climbed back down the side of the mountain and went inside to have the last of the legal alcohol for awhile.  We partied into the early hours and eventually people began to drift off to their beds in anticipation of the day ahead.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized that night was exactly what I had been wishing for – a night where the biggest topic for conversation was who was the best cook on board, and the biggest decision was figuring out the highlight of the trip to date.  Everything in the past was perfect, and the future was exciting.  There was no job to have to return to in two weeks, no unfinished business to take care of, no relationships to fix, no bills to pay, no phone calls to return, no meetings to attend.  For the first time since childhood, we were children again in the simplest, purest sense.  No cares in the world, just tossing stones over the edge of a cliff, watching the sun set over a village, and then scrambling down a hill so we wouldn’t be late for dinner.

Ishak Pasa, Dogubeyzit, Turkey photo: Eric Baxter

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