I’ve been coming to this bus stop for three months and I still don’t really know what time my bus is supposed to arrive.
I’ve been waiting 15 minutes so far and I’m certain it will be at least another five. Call me a pessimist. It seems like the wait is always about 25 minutes. I’ve watched them all pass by now; the 70, the 72, the 55t, the 88, a couple of double-decker tour buses, the 55t again…
I do a lot of my thinking at this stop. Here, underneath Taksim Square — usually waiting for the 73 bus to take me to the office — I’ve concocted a dozen schemes only to discard them for a dozen more. I do a lot of ruminating, over pleasant things and unpleasant things. I do a lot of reflecting, trying to tease out lessons from countless experiences in numerous places across the planet.
In the 11 months since I left Chicago in order to “go back to Texas,” I’ve driven out west to Portland, Oregon, from which I then flew to Mexico City. Upon my return to Texas in September, I moved into a house in Austin. Then I flew back to Oregon and then left for Europe in February where I passed through Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Malta on my way to Turkey…from which I’ve made trips to Germany and Greece. That’s a lot of traveling for just under year’s worth of time.
It’s almost like I’ve been running away from something.
I have certainly been trying my best to shed some baggage, to let go of some negative things from the past. I determined it would be easier if I was far away from everything and everyone that I knew. I was right.
I’ve also been searching for something though.
That’s what this whole thing has been for me; a quest. I’ve been searching for inspiration, for new sources of motivation, and for new meaning. I’ve been searching high and low, in strange foreign places, through a few trials and a few tribulations. After all, what good is living if you don’t see any meaning in it? I recently re-read one of my favorite books, “Memoirs of a Revolutionary,” by Victor Serge. As I often do, I wrote down a few of my favorite passages. One in particular really stood out and has given me a lot to think about:
“The only meaning in life lies in the conscious participation in the making of history.”
Yes, underneath this overpass, I’ve had a lot of time to think. Even if I could erase the past three months living in İstanbul and I was only just now standing in this spot watching an endless stream of buses flow past me, I would have a lot of time to think.
It’s been 20 minutes now.
I used to write articles for publication once or twice a month but the last article I wrote was in June of 2014. It was about independent political campaigns (outside of the two dominant parties) in the United States. I haven’t written anything other than these silly blog posts since then. It’s not so much that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s more that I didn’t feel I had much to contribute nor much to contribute to.
It’s not that I’ve been bored.
I could probably write quite a bit about what’s happened in Greece since Nathan and I returned to İstanbul. I could speculate on what will happen over the coming weeks and posit some theories on what the OXI (NO) vote and the Syriza government’s subsequent about-face will mean for the country and for the continent but I don’t think this is the place.
Then there’s Turkey.
There was a suicide bombing in the southeast yesterday, in a town called Suruç. 30 people died and another 100 or so were injured. Who did it? In the US we call them ISIS. In the rest of the world we call them either ISIL or Daesh. The targets? Kurds from the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations who had gathered to announce their intention to rebuild the Syrian city of Kobani, a symbol of Kurdish resistance — led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) — to ISIL’s barbarism and a symbol of the decidedly left-wing nature of the Kurdish independence movement.
This terrifies the Turkish government who has gone as far as talking openly about sending troops into Syria, not so much to stop ISIL but rather to prevent the liberated areas from linking up and establishing a de-facto Kurdish state on the borders of Turkey’s Kurdish regions.
I spoke with someone from the YPG. As one might imagine, they’re very busy and very serious. They’re recruiting people from around the world to join in the “Rojava Revolution” and the war against ISIL. As far as I’m aware, it’s not illegal for US citizens to do so. There have even been a few stories written about Americans, Iraq War vets, who have gone to Syria to join up with them.
I have some friends who worry about me so I should probably say that I’m not heading out that way. I’ve decided that I don’t think that’s where I’ll find my opportunity to contribute, at least not to the best of my actual abilities.
In response to the bombing, which a lot of people blame on the Turkish government’s hostility towards Kurdish political organization of any kind — whether in the form of the armed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) or the peaceful Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who just won 13% of the vote — there was a large demonstration here in Beyoğlu. Afterward, a smaller group of maybe 50 young men ran down our street smashing surveillance cameras and the windows of police cars and throwing bottles at the riot cops pursuing them.
We watched from the terrace. We went out for a walk but found nothing other than bored cops hanging out in groups and barricades to keep anyone from driving through for a while.
I’ve never been one to promote the smashing of windows but I’m not one to condemn it either. I recognize it as an expression of powerlessness, of the lack of an meaningful outlet.
Anyhow, to speak of being bored in times like this is vulgar.
I’m not bored. I’m anxious. I need to contribute. I need an outlet, like I used to have.
Where to find it though?
PS: The bus did eventually come, 25 minutes from the time I arrived at the stop.
PPS: That photo above, like so many really great photos we have, is from Malta.