When you go on a trip and announce it through social media, people often comment on your post, saying things like “Oh! You really must go see this and do that!”
These people are your friends, and it seems like they’re only trying to help you, but what they’re really doing is nothing more than releasing their egos. They’re effectively saying, “Ha! I’ve been there before you.” In reality, the information they give may also be wrong as well. If you were familiar with a country already, you would immediately notice that the information is incorrect. If you were unfamiliar with that country, though, you would assume that what they say is accurate.
I’ve often come across such behavior during my travels over the years. First, the know-it-all friends have their prejudices. “Hasan,” people say, “when I told my friends I was going there, they told me not to and to go to this and that instead.” Well, I’ve been in that situation many times over the years. I know that it isn’t true, so I keep going where I want. Yet there are always friends who know better. According to these friends, Egypt is still in a state of civil war, so I shouldn’t go there. When I am there, though, my travelling companions and I can clearly see this is simply not true. I always congratulate them for their courage, because it’s a huge accomplishment to resist the warnings of your friends and go there anyway. (Well, my trips are actually more like an initiation, so these “Oh, don’t go” warnings from friends are also a kind of test.)
The next thing I come across is how the itinerary is already set on setting foot in a country. Some know-it-all will always comment with something like “Oh, you should definitely go see this.” My companions will then immediately approach me and ask if we will be going to this place. What they suggest there is probably just a trendy place, somewhere insignificant, or far removed from our route. The aim here is not to help—it’s the ego saying, “Look! I’ve been there already!”
Of course, I’m writing this not just to criticize such events—it’s also about two situations I’m experiencing in my own life.
The first one is the mindset that says, “Did I ask you? Really, did I ask you?” If I post something, I do it because I’m there. The motivation behind this is a separate issue to discuss, but my dear friend who loves to comment, did I ask for activity suggestions? Why do you answer an unasked question?
The second issue is questioning the accuracy of their suggestions. On our last Bali trip, we came across another two Turks. They said, “Oh, we’re bored of the spa, and we’re tired of shopping. Bali is so boring!” Well, in the Bali we explored, 15 days was simply not enough. We found so many places to visit that we couldn’t fit them all in. The more we explored, the more new places we wanted to visit. Yet those other two Turks were bored out of their minds. Here’s another example: I read on a friend’s feed that he was going to Bali, and somebody replied, “They don’t let tourists in the temples you know.” This is simply wrong! They do, but only if you know when and where to go. Another time, someone else wrote, “Definitely try the seafood at Jimbaran.” You’ll find this same suggestion in many blogs about Bali. We did in fact eat at Jimbaran during our first time in Bali, and we found it to be really awful. Our Bali guide would never recommend going there and suggest other restaurants instead.
Now, where does all this connect? We do the same things throughout daily life as well. We jump on questions not meant for us, we see no harm in interfering with the affairs of others, and we do not ask ourselves whether our meddling is welcome. It happens because we don’t know our limitations. Actually, nobody does. When we do not know, then others won’t either. And yet they jump on parts of our lives that were not intended for them. In this situation, it’s not always easy to tell them to butt out and mind their own business.
So, we listen to the experiences of others about their lives and assume that’s what “life” is supposed to be, so we judge. Someone comes along and says, “Life is too hard,” while another complains that it is boring. Yet another person says, “But it’ll be much better if you do this or that.” As if this isn’t enough, somebody else says, “You need discipline in life! You should be organized with a career plan.” And then there’s this gigantic system that keeps churning out the same propaganda: “You exist only if you own things, otherwise you’re nothing. So, buy, buy, buy!”
As all this accumulates, we grow afraid of life and run away from it. We can no longer delve into it and live our own unique experience. Yet life itself is like the island of Bali. Whatever you desire and seek, it will present you with it. Go to Bali, and this island can present you with touristic experiences, a romantic honeymoon, some superficial spirituality, or a deep spiritual expedition. You get whatever you want from it. And this is just a tiny island. Can you even begin to imagine what the infinite universe can offer you? Think about it.
So, what are we supposed to do then you may well ask? The answer lies here: If everyone is messing with your head with the things they know, and in turn messing with your life, then just say, “Screw that!” and focus on your own original and authentic experience. It’s that simple! Nobody can live the life of another or perceive life like another can. Nobody can impose their perceptions upon me, just for the sake of getting so-called approval. Away with you all! I’m choosing my own path. If I need advice, and if I believe you can provide it, I’ll come and ask you. This is especially true if beauty radiates from you. I’d come running toward you and ask you to teach me, but this can only happen if both you and I want it. It means that I would have opened my energy field to you, and with a seed from you, I’d grow my own garden.
All too often, though, I’m not asking, and yet people still come over to try and plant their seeds. My energy field is not open, yet they continue to push it. This is actually a form of assault. All those spiritual guides should not try to help me until I ask for their support. Who are they to push me this way or that? At such points, these people deserve to be told to butt out, yet my divine love is right behind it. Know your place and draw your own limitations, so nobody can do this to you.
But alas, my eyes are not blind. They are capable of seeing every kind of beauty. My attitude toward life does not involve berating people nonstop. On the contrary, it’s all about embracing, accepting, and going with the flow. This know-your-place model is merely an in-between step until I know my real place. Once you figure out your limits and places, the system will not attack you like that either. I know it. Wherever there’s an opening, I feel the need to defend myself through it. Wherever there’s defense, an attack comes right away. This process continues until that opening is closed. I’d like to note this down here.
Another note would be: We had an amazing Bali guide who knows the island like the back of his hand. Just like our Bali guide, there are guides through life, too, and they know life very well. What’s important is to find the right guide. You may question whether it’s essential to have a guide. Of course it isn’t, but exploring everything on your own can be time consuming. With a good guide, you might hit the bullseye straight away, giving you more time to really enjoy life. Thus, you do not devote your life to exploring just Bali—you also get to visit other fascinating places around the world.
May we all come to know our limits and our places, and let it be known to others as well.
Hasan Sonsuz Çeliktaş
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