I’m waking up today of being in isolation for 40 days from the coronavirus pandemic. For some reason I haven’t been caring too much about what day of the week or what the actual date is. What difference does it make as every day is pretty much the same? However, counting the days of my current lockdown seems significant, and today is day number 40 for me. I am reminded that the number 40 is significant in the Bible: Jesus fasted for 40 days, the great flood lasted 40 days, and it took 40 years of pilgrimage from the Israelites in the desert. And upon further research the number 40 seems to be significant in many religions and cultures. But this morning when I thought about the number 40, it brought to mind a book as well as the most awe inspiring time of my life.
The book that came to mind is THE FORTY RULES OF LOVE by Elif Shafak. It tells one story of the poet Rumi and his deep friendship and love with his spiritual teacher, Shams of Tabriz, set in the thirteenth century. And it tells another story set in the current day of a woman who is unhappy in her marriage, although I personally didn’t enjoy this part of the book as much, preferring the Rumi story instead. As I thought that I might or should re read the book, my mind went to that special place in time at the moment of its discovery…
I was on an airplane on Turkish Airlines on my very first solo trip heading to Istanbul. I sat next to a doctor, and he assumed that he would sleep for the entire duration of the evening flight from Chicago. He was wrong. I remember stepping onto that flight so clearly in mind. I was aghast at how small the seats were as I declared my unhappiness out loud, and as I approached the doctor to take the seat next to him, he straightened up from his leaning position against his window seat while also straightening his baseball cap back on. I recall the look on his face so clearly in my mind having the look of horror as I knew he was thinking, “Damn, this is going to be a LONG flight sitting next to this bitch.” But at the same time he was interested and curious about me. He was a doctor who was in Chicago for a whole month and was going back to Istanbul where he lived. We talked almost the entire duration of the flight of over 10 hours about music, books, and our lives in general. When I asked who his favorite author was, that’s when he mentioned Elif Shafak, the author of THE 40 RULES OF LOVE. I wrote this down to read when I returned from my trip which, of course I did, and I now want to relieve the entire moment by moment story of that plane ride along with the details of my whole trip to Turkey. But I will save that for the book I have been writing as I now wonder how many chapters it would take.
A flood of emotions and memories just erupted as I looked at the pictures of my trip just now, and of course, tears 😭. That single trip was THE reason I started this blog, and I just realized that today, the daily writing of this blog is healing me and keeping me sane from the tragedy of the current world events. I have neglected to write on this blog for over a year and only started again because of the social distancing and isolation measures. As I forced myself to practice writing, I have learned a lot about myself and the world. I learned that the term “writer’s block” is bullshit. I have learned that when we are all stripped away of everything that we’re used to, the world and the people in it are pretty much the same. We all want the same thing: happiness. We also have similar insecurities and fears about ourselves as well as life. As the world is in crisis, we are going through a spiritual cleansing of sorts, which I mentioned a few times in my prior blog posts, and that we are experiencing a metamorphosis. Just like in alchemy there is a mention of 40 philosophical days required to purify, purge, and refine our senses before any transmutation takes place, this current world transmutation appears to be a spiritual cleansing of the universe, and I’m all in. As I have the rest of the day before me I have all that I truly need. I feel grateful for all the layers that are stripped away from me during this time as I await to discover that a better me will emerge. I hope you, too, are experiencing your own metamorphosis.