Deeply compelled and moved for the state of our fellow man, we contrive ideas and plans, move different places, speak authentically of our desires and sorrows and engage with society at the levels which we see essential for change.
Our dejection is palpable just as our optimism is tangible.
We blabber on, at times incoherently, about the importance of the times facing us, and our subsequent responses to them. Our role in and among it all feels to be something of great salience. Confounded and tossing out questions in the sitting room, we sip our tea, and feeling the waters of ambivalence and ambiguity hurling inside of us, we resolve to silence.
Night is upon us, and our bellies are full from the homemade meal from friends. We table the weighty concerns of humanity for daybreak. Tired and encumbered from the complex matters that compose our world, we slink into our bed sheets, covered by a wool blanket, and find rest beneath the ceiling of the Anatolian apartment building.
I lay there thinking, looking to the ceiling, that the bewildering state of our world and the matters facing humanity are about as baffling as me lying in this bed here in Üsküdar at age twenty-four thinking about the matters of the world.
My mere existence in such a world, let alone my ability to ponder it, consider it, question it, and somehow attempt to make sense of it all, seems wildly bizarre. I don’t even understand the basic natural laws that are written into the code of life that somehow makes things function. They just do. Regardless of whether or not I ever learn about them or give them any credence; they just are. They just do.
Structures that I walk in and out of hundreds of times a day were made by someone, somewhere with a knowledge that I do not obtain, and I don’t even give them a passing thought anymore. Except here in my bed, in Üsküdar, long after the sun has set.
The ferry that will take me from Asia to Europe requires a constitutional framework revolving around buoyancy. The ability to float in water and traverse waterways across the world is lost on me. My countless hours of metaphysical pondering are lost on the fact that we can now float and fly! But these layers of precepts are neglected by my personhood. I live in and among them, but never stop to actually consider them. I, instead, rack my brain with quandaries and dilemmas facing humanity and how I might purpose my life in tandem with rectifying them. Simultaneously, my composition doesn’t require answers, but perhaps a level of clarity in how I should be engaging with these kinds of affairs such as existence, suffering and meaning.
I have become binary in my thinking and forget the strata that comprise the world of which I am a denizen. So I have stopped. I’ve stopped to smell the literal roses.
I am looking at the structure’s ceiling that I am now sitting in. This library. The pink mortar that fills the spaces between the gray and brown brick. Someone did this. Someone spent hours of their life creating – what I think to be quite a stunning library connected to the Şemsi Pasha Mosque – this edifice standing along the shore of the Bosphorus. The lucid, turquoise waters lap the pallid stone walking path just outside this window. The masons working on this library a great many years ago may have been pondering the same transcendental matters I do with my friends in the living room while we sip tea. Their discourse and concurrent labor may have gone hand in hand. Considering the trajectory of time when they were living, the issues facing them, at a fundamental level, were not different than what myself and my contemporaries face today. These core contentions facing us have simply taken on a new facade.
To the point: we all continue to ask the same questions.
Perhaps such a heavy pursuit of those things, though, leaves us blind to the mechanisms that we utilize and operate out of every day. Perhaps there is reprieve from the heaviness of abstract thought by touching that which is tangible and considering the process of its existence.
Perhaps a remedy to my own misgivings of my place and interactions in this world is to consider the idiosyncratic perfection of other things in this world. These cities, comprised of structures made by construction crews constituted of men from hundreds of years ago that learned a skill, is evident and tangible day by day. A city built because of humans. A society with laws, rules and norms. A society with roads, ferries and networks. A society saturated with culture, traditions and a long standing place in history. A society warm with decadent pastries and rich coffee. A society that endured a myriad of different rulers and empires. A society that somehow, over the course of time, has morphed into what it is now.
A city that buzzes with people and street lights late at night, while I lie in my bed in Üsküdar, reminds me of the corporeal immediacy in this world. That there are physical reminders of humanity’s interaction with those natural laws that make it possible for me to sit and consider that which is outside of both them and me. Thoughts that strike me while I ride the ferry are jotted down in my journal, and later juggled around in my thoughts prompting some sort of response. But the ferry just floats. It does what it was built to do. It falls in line with that which it was constructed for, not because it has to, but because that’s what it does. It’s what it is. A boat. It floats – assuming it was built properly. We figured that out long ago, and among millions of other things that I’ve likely not considered, we did the same thing. Airplanes fly. I don’t know how; I don’t understand it, but if done correctly, it flies. We have adapted, advanced, both for good and for ill, by constructing a world that forms to these laws. People that spend their time understanding matters of practicality in science and physics and thereby construct, innovate and mechanize things to accommodate them to make the world a more well-functioning place, deserve a level of reverence I’m not quite sure how to express. Their brain power and ability to reason are far beyond what I have to offer, and I can express a level of humble gratitude to their offerings and endeavors. I reap the fruits of their labor, and their contribution to the world enables me experiences that serve as the reservoir from which I pull from when I write. Their genius is a gift.
Humanity propels forward on the river of metaphysical musings by the well-constructed boat of buoyancy.