Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway.
Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared.
~Edward Vernon Rickenbacker
Since several people have told me I’m brave this week I’ve decided to respond and correct that flattering, but ultimately incorrect, perception.
I guess living in Istanbul is like living in New York. It may sound interesting and exotic and exciting but really, it's just life. I get up, make my bed, have breakfast. I worry about work sometimes. I try to have a social life and still accomplish all the things I want to do as well as all the things I have to do. I avoid vacuuming and dusting and washing the dishes in favor of drinking coffee in the café.
Well, I say that and then realize that today I felt very grateful and very spoiled. I don't know about brave, or that other adjective that has lately been attached to descriptions of my life, “interesting”. I always feel like my actual life would bore other people but it keeps me entertained.
Here is what I did Friday. I got up, took a long shower, washed my hair, and shaved all the bits that needed shaving. Then I made breakfast. Actually, I heated up breakfast which was this magic new kind of borek they told me about last night when I was having coffee and desert in the patisserie. It translates into "water borek" and somehow water is involved in the making of it but I have no idea how that works. Anyway, somehow those few activities took two hours.
Then I went to my cafe and tried to work, but I could only do so much as I am STILL waiting for my domain to become available. So I paid some bills, did a bit of work, some correspondence, and was as productive as I could be under the circumstances. Two coffees, a bottle of water and many, many chocolate covered coffee beans later, I asked for my bill and my favorite waiter told me there was no charge! So I wandered off into the sunshine thinking how lucky I am. I'm not sure I can ever leave Istanbul, I am completely and utterly spoiled here. Brave? More like spoiled and coddled.
It was such a nice, sunny day, warm for this time of year. I thought I should do something outside, but couldn't think what, so I wandered over to my friend’s hotel thinking I would pick up the candelabra I bought from him. I picked it out a week ago, and paid for it two days ago, but somehow never managed to get it home (why I am buying candelabras at a hotel is a story for another day).
So, I fetched my candelabra and we sat around the hotel lobby watching "Ratatouille" on my MacBook. I drank sage tea. I watched an episode of Meerkat Manor. Someone brought me a tea which I made the mistake of drinking (if you sit still in Turkey for more than five minutes someone will bring you tea. I think it’s a rule). Since I hadn't had anything to eat except coffee beans for six hours the tea made me nauseous and I decided I needed to go eat. I asked if I could have a bag or if I needed to carry the candlestick home held aloft like some sort of Turkish Statue of Liberty. The Turks suggested I would look more like Florence Nightingale. They had to explain to me that she was known as the lady of the light or something like that and is always pictured with a lamp. I had no idea. Anyway, they got me a plastic bag so it was covered up. It's this five-candle candelabra, very dramatic. Every time I thought of it over the past few days all I could think was "Professor Plum, in the library, with the candlestick..."
Brave? More like spoiled, coddled, and a wee bit lazy.
On my way home I called the friend who is visiting from the U.S. We went for a quick dinner, picked up some groceries, and were home by 6:30, in our jammies. On Friday. Yeah, I'm feeling really brave and interesting! I spent the rest of the night doing some sewing, putting together a little table, cleaning my candlestick and chatting online-- fascinating stuff!
I do feel lucky, but not brave. Like I am in the right place for me at the moment, but a place that would drive lots of other people crazy. And of course, that’s the secret-- to find the place that’s right for you at the moment. I don’t know about bravery, but I do know it would take a strength I just don’t have to live somewhere less right for me.
So, I will finish with one more quote:
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave.
~Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar, 1894
I’m not brave, I’m just not afraid.