Classical physics and subatomic physics have different understandings of time.

There’s a question that clearly shows this difference: “Does time surf in your mind or does your mind surf in time?” If time is something absolute established by the divine order, then we have nothing to say about it. But what if time is a perceptual phenomenon? Could it be like that?

While receiving cancer treatment, physical recovery is something you look forward to, so you can finally feel well. It’s about starting to do your work by yourself again, regaining your physical freedom, and reacquiring a social life. Many things get back on track, including the ability to think clearly…

My body had never experienced such a great problem until my operation. It was the first time that I had the opportunity to observe my body and mind separately, and very closely at that. Whenever my body suffered, it surprised me to see how my mind took such a pragmatic approach. It just moved aside and waited for its turn. When my body later recovered, my mind thankfully returned to its former state.  It resumed its usual surfing between the past and the future. I was used to this. After the cancer experience, though, I realized that I’d acquired some new behavior of the mind. I felt uncomfortable with the change in its primary goals. Its questions had become more concerned with the future, and it became more suspicious. This anxious condition increased the adrenalin flowing through my body. I knew this attitude was based on fear, but I also knew I needed peace and confidence rather than fear.

Successfully recovering under such a mental condition seemed an impossible task, because fear is a powerful emotion that affects the body on a cellular level and disturbs its chemical balance. I knew my ability to think clearly would be impaired if I continued to be exposed to the systematic effects of fear. I needed immediate help in dealing with this source of fear, but I had no idea about the kind of help I needed or where I could get it.

One day, my daughter Kardelen came home from school as I languished in the living room. She approached me with a small package in her hands and said, “Mom, knead this and see what takes shape.” It was some kind of dough, and it could be molded before being baked in the oven. I took it and started toying with it.

As a designer, I draw, paint, and even stitch, but what could I do with this dough?

I toyed with this dough over the coming days. Whenever I felt strong enough, I squeezed and squashed it. I don’t know why, but I wanted to make a cat. On my first try, I made something about two inches tall that was strikingly similar to a cat. Everyone except me thought it was a beautiful cat, but it wasn’t the cat I was dreaming of. I then said to myself, “I need to work with the dough more to improve the coordination between my brain and my hands…”

My adventure with the dough continued with me trying to make a new cat each day. One day, Nihal, who had helped me with the housework during chemotherapy, looked at the different cats I’d made and said, “I think you make the same cat every time.” She was right in a way. The cats I’d made were all similar, with only their colors differing. My inner voice told me something different, though, so I told her. “You’re right. They all look the same, but I don’t make the same thing each time. I swear.”

I knew what I was not making, but I didn’t know what I was making. It was only at the end of the year that I realized this and could talk about it.

When the year was over, I laid all my cats together and excitedly sat in front of them. After carefully staring at them, I realized they could be classified into three types depending on their level of abstraction. The first cats I’d made resembled real cats. The ones I’d made later were a little more caricaturized and abstracted, but the cats I’d made toward the end of the year were radically different to the others. These stood on two feet at five or six inches high and looked humanlike. They had finally matched the image of a cat in my mind, even though they didn’t look like real cats. As the cats had become more abstract, they looked less like real cats, yet they reminded me more of cats.

So, the mantra we were taught in design class finally proved to be right: “The more abstract, the more concrete.”

This proved to me that I hadn’t made the same cat. The ones I’d made every day were just steps toward making one that would match the image in my mind, which was not a realistic cat. The cat in my mind was witty, aesthetic, smart, lively, and sensitive. The last cats I made matched this image.

So, what if the things I made were not cats?

Looking at the cats all grouped together, I suddenly realized how they represented my mental activity over the last year. There was a deep connection between the trinity of me, the dough, and my mental images, a deeper connection than I expected. I finally realized that what I had been kneading was not the dough but rather the cancer. It was me. Before working with the dough, I believed that cancer was so huge that it couldn’t be beaten. I was small and hopeless. I was like sand, while the cancer was rigid like a stone and unbreakable. The cancer was unchanging, while I constantly changed from one state to another.

Moreover, while the chemotherapy was devastating my body, I felt like I was getting smaller and smaller while the cancer became more concrete. Kardelen had thrown a wrench in the works, though, with the help of this tiny dough. Working with the dough had slowly distracted me from this way of thinking, but how had this transformation come about?

This small package of dough had performed two basic functions. First, it had entertained and distracted me, leading to a deep connection forming between us. I constantly worked with it. As is common with good entertainment, my mind was focused on that moment and the task at hand. I was focused on the now and what I was doing at that precise moment. As a result, I let go of the anxiety and fear and began to understand what was happening.

Secondly, the dough was incredible because of its structure. It was a little firm, but it was pliable enough to knead, so my body and my mind could work simultaneously. With the help of this cooperation, I could take the images in my mind and knead the dough in the way I wanted.

In this way, I realized I was not only making cats but also realizing images from my mind in a healthy way. It seemed like a miracle, but it was all achieved through a simple collaboration between my hands, a little dough, and my intentions.

Making something includes a powerful energy that connects the person making with the object being made. When you focus on making something, your mind becomes peaceful and supports your effort to create something. We are certainly influential creators, especially when it comes to our own realities.

I kneaded the cancer dough again and created small Fundas. I had insisted on making numerous cats until I reached my own image before cancer. Once I was convinced that I had reached Funda, my interest in the dough changed direction. What had happened was no coincidence, and the reality was in these words: “Whatever you make makes you.”