Prone to Travel

03 February 2014 Comments Off on Prone to Travel

BY MELEK CANSU PETEK (ELIT/II)
petek@ug.bilkent.edu.tr

If I were to summarize my winter break in one word, I’d choose “wanderlust.” Such a beautiful word, right? It basically means “a strong impulse or longing to travel.” Well, unfortunately, traveling around is not what I did during the break, but I kept looking at tickets, thinking of places that I’d love to go here in Turkey and all over the world—and while we’re at it, Ireland is and will be at the top of my list.

There is a Susan Sontag quote I really love: “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” That practically sums up the desire of a traveler or a wanderer, whichever you’d like to call such a person. There is something magical about going to a new place, turning your discovery mode on and simply getting lost in a city—sometimes literally. If you’re anything like me, a person with no sense of direction whatsoever, you’ll definitely get lost, probably more than once. Whenever that happens, I first flip out, then start laughing at myself and finally enjoy the discoveries made possible only through that experience. The best part of my Edinburgh trip was when I completely lost track of where I was and ended up in the midst of the most beautiful country scenery I’d ever viewed. So, people, go ahead and get lost!

Another possibility is rediscovering a place you’ve already been to, or one you’ve been living in for a while. That’s how I feel whenever I go to Istanbul, but I can’t be objective about that—Istanbul steals my heart every single time. Even Ankara, a comparatively dull and boring city, can offer you quite a lot once you drop your prejudices on the ground and trot off. It might be harder to feel like an explorer here, but don’t lose heart—just start bopping around. I’ve been living in Ankara for almost seven years now, and I’m pretty sure there are still surprises waiting right around the corner of a familiar street.

Now, here comes the so-called problem part of all that lovey-dovey travel mode. Even when I was checking those websites or writing this column, there was a voice at the back of my head saying, “Traveling can cost a lot, and you’re just a student. Stop daydreaming.” The good thing is, I never do stop daydreaming. I may not have a lot of money, but chances are I never will. It shouldn’t be a reason to stop discovering the world, right? It’s still possible to travel, and I want to seize every single opportunity. It’s easy to accept defeat and tie everything to money, or to the lack of it for that matter. Speaking of which, have I ever told you how much I dislike money? Now seems like a good time to me.

Perhaps dislike is not even the right verb—I’ve just learned not to care about money. I can reluctantly accept that it’s necessary to have it in order to live, but I don’t like money unless it’s used as a tool to bring happiness and real richness into our lives. I detest the idea of living a life that is ruled by money, and it saddens me so much when money becomes the priority of anyone around me. Call me a romantic, an idealist or a dreamer—I’ll be glad to accept any of those titles as an honor, but please know that there is so much more to life once we let go of the worry of owning more.

Oscar Wilde probably had no idea how bad it would get in this century when he said, “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Yet I sincerely hope the effect of living in a money-worshipping world hasn’t come to a point of no return for any of you. Next time you have a desire to go somewhere new, do something new, or acquire a new, somewhat crazy hobby, I urge you to give it a try. Next time you have the chance to travel, take it without thinking. It might not be the place you’ve always dreamed of going, but it’s always a good sign when you finally start moving and take a step out of your comfort zone. I may not be able to go to Ireland this year either, but I have no intention of letting that stop me. I’m already trying to find places close by for daytrips, and making treasure hunt plans for new restaurants and coffee shops. With every step you take, your life will turn into a better story. We are all made for more, so there is no point in settling for less, right?

P.S.: Welcome back to a new semester, dear Bilkenters! For some reason, winter break is never long enough to rest and get ready for a new battle, but I wish you the best of luck!