What would be your reaction if one day your son comes up to you and says, “Mom, Dad, I am leaving my job. It doesn’t satisfy me anymore; I am settling in Bodrum (a seaside town on the Med) where I will learn jewelry design and in between maybe give yoga lessons”? Now, mind you, this is a son you have worked hard to educate, and you’re proud because he graduated from one of the most prestigious departments. He’s climbed non-stop up the success ladder, and you boasted to friends and family about the lofty positions he achieved.
I am sure this situation would be very difficult for any parent to easily accept. So now, I will share with you the path I chose to follow in my life, despite such utterances as “he has lost his mind; what a pity, he was such a bright boy!”
The Scenario Is Ready
When you’re a kid, elders always make a point of asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always responded, “A fireman,” until I watched the film Indiana Jones; forever thereafter, my reply became “an archeologist.” Then I graduated from Ankara University, Faculty of Communication, Department of Public Relations.
Now the elders of the family would question me rather more seriously: “What do you plan on doing now, son?” The truth of the matter: I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do. Then life moved on, and I became a research assistant in the same department I had graduated from.
As I was submitting my Master’s thesis in July 2003, my advisor told me in a serious manner:
Hasan, it is time you left the department. There is so much you can do elsewhere. In the meantime here is your three months salary…Go and put your thesis together, then leave. If you decide to stay, you must concentrate on doctorate work, so be prepared. Also, please let us know of your final decision.
That week was one of stress and anxiety. I was scared to death. What was I going to do? I could stay, and I was sure I could convince my teachers as well…Yet, was that what I really desired? I did not have the slightest idea what I could do outside the department. Advertising? Grrr….Public Relations? In Ankara? Should I move to Istanbul when I don’t really want to? What was I to do?
As I walked toward my advisor’s room, I had not yet reached a decision. It was as if I balanced on the precipice of a deep bottomless cliff. A voice asked me to jump. This decision would mean throwing myself into darkness, an unknown. I was a civil servant. I received a salary on the fifteenth of the month. I had social security. My career was prestigious. I tried hard not to heed the voice. That voice would not stop. It told me to have faith in myself. It assured me that no harm would befall me. Step by step, I approached the room. I knocked on the door…“Sir, I came to let you know of my decision” I said. I stopped. “I will be leaving after I submit my thesis.” I had just jumped off the bottomless cliff!
Help! I Am Falling…
While falling, you can’t grab any branches to hold on to. You just keep falling. My advisor, rather surprised with my decision, made me further surprised at his surprise. I was made to understand that this was a technique, more a trick, played on a student submitting their thesis. A trick to assess whether they want to go on or not. Most probably the majority wants to go on, but I had jumped off that deep cliff. Upon leaving the building, I didn’t know where to go, but as usual I found myself at Gülüm’s, my Reiki master. Since I was still falling, I was dizzy and confused. In the meantime I called my father and told him of my decision; it left him in a state of shock. As a know-it-all Aries man, he immediately made career plans for me by remarking I could choose to be a police officer or a teacher. But no, life had different plans for me.
As I sat bewildered in Gülüm’s house, I didn’t come to my senses for a while. I have to admit I was full of anxiety and not calm at all. I had only shown the courage to jump, but as far as the rest, I had no clear idea. Prior to all of this happening, I had taken up writing and my articles had inspired interest. So Gülüm and I considered publishing a book of my articles. Since Gülüm had recently set up a publishing company, she offered to publish it.
To me writing was just a hobby, and I had no great desire to make a career out of it. Nevertheless, with all these considerations, I sat down in front of Gülüm’s computer. About that time a new email arrived to attract my attention. It was from Aycan Saroglu of Yeni Aktüel (most renowned bi-weekly news magazine in Turkey). In short, he had come across one of my articles that he liked very much and wanted to write about me. He also wanted to know if we could meet. Unaware at the time, my future was beginning to take shape.
Aycan and I met. We liked each other and got along well. The news story about me was published and attracted a lot of attention. In the meantime my book was published, and in a chain of luck, I ended up writing for both Esquire and Cosmopolitan. To top it all off, I still had my place at the university! My thesis was accepted and surprisingly my contract was extended, so actually I had no need to quit right away. Life, however, was preparing a deeper question for me.
I Am Being Questioned Yet Again
A year had passed. I was both at school and writing regularly for two magazines. In addition, I had begun to publish my own magazine, derKi, on the internet. derKi had become the purpose of my life. I aimed to touch the spirits of humankind and the world through derKi. Unfortunately, all along I kept receiving rather sarcastic remarks about finishing my PhD, and oh by the way, how the hell could I find time to write these articles. Yes, for the first time I had made up my mind and jumped; nevertheless, after a while I fell off the wagon only to cover the same ground once again. Many have faced this dilemma, and life was questioning me yet again. What is it you really want to do?
In September 2004, I only had a month left to sit for my PhD exams. I was constantly being reminded to prepare…Also derKi’s fourth issue was due out. There was no chance of preparing for the exams and getting issue four ready for derKi. As derKi was still new, timely publication was critical. I couldn’t delay it. I will never forget that moment! I was sitting in front of the computer with my exam notes on one side and the layout of DerKi facing me on the other. The Universe beckoned me: Decide! Again, I stood on the precipice of that same bottomless cliff, but alas, something was different. This time I knew what to do, and it wasn’t to prepare for the exam. So naturally, I failed. Perhaps, my teachers had expected me to put up a fight to stay on, but that choice would have probably led to a position I had no desire for in my life.
The stories I tell are not only mine. My mentor Gülüm also comes from a background of advertising. After she finished the Department of Journalism, Gülüm set up an advertising agency and kept it until she encountered Reiki. In 1997, she became a Reiki trainer; thereafter, she closed the ad agency and fully dedicated herself to the practice of Reiki. When asked why she made this choice, you could hear certainty in her voice: “I knew Reiki was my path. I also knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life solely teaching and practicing Reiki. It could never be a part time job. You need to dedicate your life to it, if you want to do it.”
Another story is that of Nil Gün, a widely known author in Turkey. She too began her work life in advertising; however, her writing-teaching career dates back to the seventies. In 1977, she first started teaching in the U.S. and has since continued both writing and teaching. She has numerous articles and books to her credit and gives lectures. Why has she made these choices? “This is an idealistic choice and so few people make choices according to their ideals. I want to create change in the lives of people. I want to be a channel for change in people’s lives, and hence, this is the path I walk on.”
Gülüm and Nil’s stories are very similar to those of people who have made this same type of choice. After graduation from a prestigious department and a successful business life, a feeling of dissatisfaction appears, and that’s when the universe poses a question to you: What do you really want to do? The choice you make requires you to let go of all that you cling to. In fact, without a strong belief in the natural flow of life, it would be impossible to convince others.
What About Income Security?
While writing this article, I posed yet another question to friends whose life stories I knew. I asked them how their income was affected by their choices. Oddly, it was the same for most of them: They did not make their choices based on income. Basically, they had not been satisfied with the way their life had gone, so they wanted to change it. Of course, the decision to change may sound simple, but rarely is the choice made. It may result in leaving your present security behind—income, relationships, and the way of life you have become so used to. Yet, you easily let go because you have made your choice and the rest flows.
You might wonder if all the stories follow the same pattern. No! There are also different stories like that of another friend. While at the top level of management, he gave up everything and took up spiritual healing. Soon, when approached by another company, he gave up healing and accepted another offer. When asked why he had accepted the offer, his reply was that his income had suffered terribly and he could not make do. In fact, after a while he turned completely against all spiritual practices and dedicated himself solely to his career.
Your Life Is the Result of Your Choices
You shape your life. The life you lead today is the outcome of the decisions you have made along the way. Casting blame on people or events for your present life is an indicator of your level of development. A mature person accepts the responsibility and says “Yes, I chose this.” Inasmuch, those who have not yet fully matured would put the blame on everyone or everything other than themselves.
When you feel you are not very happy and desire change, life will prepare the script, the setting in which you will be faced with “the” question. The situation may differ; it could be during your final master’s exam or possibly when offered a position. Yet the question is always the same: “What do you choose to do for the rest of your life?” Accordingly, the scenario is set and you live it. The universe never judges your choice. Let this not be misunderstood! Your choice must not be spiritual. You choose whatever you feel. Every artist has a different design.
If you are faced with “the” question and you seek an answer, Nil Gün’s words will likely help you…“Life favors the brave and always rewards him.”
May you be brave enough to meet the fall when you need to!
Hasan Sonsuz Çeliktaş
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