Transform

We have the power to completely reinvent ourselves. The mind is more capable than we give it credit for.

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So many things on my mind. I’ve had many moments in the past few days where I thought this would be great to include in the blog. One of the instances is louder in my mind than any other right now.

I never have good opening lines. It takes me time to warm up while I’m writing. To get into the mood of writing. I feel my posts end well. I love with finishing lines. The conclusion should be strong.

I wanted to start this post in a certain way but the pressure I’m putting on myself isn’t allowing me to write. I’m removing that pressure and instead simply going to start typing. Here goes.

The other night we were sitting around the dinner table. Another one of those nights where we sat at the dinner table for 3-4 hours. Eliz is out of town with her mom. We invited her dad over for dinner. Had a few drinks and a great meal. Then as we started to talk one story my mom told was eye opening.

Here’s something I never really thought about. My cousins came here when they were younger than I was. One was born in Canada. The other was 2 and the oldest was 5 or 6. Schools sometimes have “Grandparents’ Days.” It’s exactly as it sounds. A day to invite your grandparents into school with you. Refugee kids usually don’t have their grandparents around. I could experience that briefly but they never had that chance. My one cousin didn’t meet his grandparents in person until he was 7. The same age I was when my family left my grandparents in Turkey to come to New York.

The conversation started because we were discussing how we raise children now. I made the point about how different it was for families 300 years ago. We were also discussing how families should all have their own space. I believe that too, but this is a newer social norm. Think about it. 300 years ago, everyone didn’t have their own house. People didn’t live on the other side of the world and keep in contact. They didn’t even live 50 Kilometers away from each other. If they did then they knew they weren’t going to be in the other person’s life.

I’m big on clichés. There is a cliché about raising kids. “It takes a village.” The more I think about it the more it makes sense. The reason being, 300 years ago there was a few babies and the entire village looked after them. Now we have our own houses. I’m not saying it’s the wrong way to do things, I’m just fascinated by how much the world has changed in the last 3 centuries.

That may seem like a long time to us but my friend said his friend’s grandmother turned 103 last week. This woman was alive during WWI, WWII, she saw the Million Man March, she saw around for the first set of TVs, the first cell phones, commercial flights and a million other things.

Evolution doesn’t work this quickly. We make technological advances quicker. What am I trying to say here? It’s hard for me to articulate my thoughts sometimes. As I said, lots on my mind.

What I’m trying to say is maybe we’re losing touch of ourselves. I finished Wherever You Go There You Are by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. In one part, he discusses how we never sit and watch fire anymore. It was part of our evolutionary process. Think about the last time you sat around a fireplace or campfire. How did it feel? Anytime I sit next to an open fire I feel calmer. I have this feeling as if I’m safer. I feel warm, in the literal sense of the word, but also figuratively. Nowadays, we never sit around the fire. We don’t look at it.

“Your name is just a label. The same is true of your age, your gender, your opinions, and so on. None are fundamental to who you are.”

Nearly every morning I take Niko for a walk by the lake. There’s a hill I always stand atop. It’s amazing to do first thing in the morning. Trees on one side and the water on the other. I take a minute to stand in admiration. It’s easy to forget how beautiful the world is. When do we make the time to appreciate those types of things?

Looking up at the stars is an incredible feeling. I don’t get to do it anymore because the city lights drown it out. The same park has a great view of the Toronto skyline. It’s really a beautiful sight to see but, as I told my friends, I’m more interested in the view of the trees than the skyline. That’s very new to me. As I’ve said many times in this blog, I’ve changed a lot. I should say I’m changing a lot.

Another thing in Wherever You Go There You Are that really stuck out to me was this quote, “Your name is just a label. The same is true of your age, your gender, your opinions, and so on. None are fundamental to who you are.” This was my favourite quote in the book. Again, it’s hard for me to explain. To me this means that I can choose to be who I choose to be. I know I write about being 26 but what does that really mean? So what if I’m 26? Do all 26 year olds have these thoughts? Do any 26 year olds have these thoughts? I don’t know. What difference does my age make?

There was a year that I spent in a small school where there were only 2 grade 8 classes. I moved to Hamilton, Ontario when I was in grade 6. We had just moved from Brooklyn, New York. It was an interesting transition. From a big city like New York to Hamilton. We faired well in our first school in the downtown area. It was as if we didn’t leave Brooklyn because there were many kids in the same situation as us. New to the country. No extended family around. Everyone sort of went through the same challenges, albeit, at that age, we were going through the trials unknowingly.

Back to the school I went to in grade 8. Everyone had been going to school together since they were in kindergarten. They all knew each other and had lived in the same houses. I immediately became very good friends with a lot of them. I was used to making new friends. I had changed 4 schools and three countries by then.

I want to note, there was another student there that came from a different country. He and I gravitated towards each other and were close friends for years. I didn’t want to discuss this part of my life and leave him out.

Back to what I was saying, we were the same age as any of them but we had very different life experiences. By that point in our lives I had already transformed myself many times. In the book, there is a bit about how we are always changing. There is never a moment we are the same as we were the moment before. Think about that for a second. How could we be so afraid of change when we are continually changing?

“Maybe we are overdeveloped outwardly and underdeveloped inwardly.”

When I sit to meditate, and concentrate on my breath I quickly realize that no breath is the same. With one breath my chest rises, the other my stomach. Our mind and body is continually changing, nonstop. We lose weight, we gain weight, we get pimples, our hair is growing, our nails need to be clipped, we need to use the bathroom.

I don’t know what my advice is for this post. I think the human mind is the most advanced piece of technology in the world. We already know we don’t know how to fully use it. Meditation allows me to understand it a little bit more. Books help me understand the capabilities of the mind too.

I’ll end it off with a story that was in Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s book that I think may be relevant here. When they asked the Dalai Lama about how people in “developed” countries can deal with self-esteem issues better he didn’t understand the question. Despite having a strong command of the English language, he had to have a translator explain what it was to have self-esteem issues because it is extremely uncommon in Tibet. Dr. Kabat-Zinn writes, “Maybe we are overdeveloped outwardly and underdeveloped inwardly.”

Here’s the advice. Start to understand the power you have. We all have an incredible amount of power to reinvent ourselves. We do it naturally while sitting. Our body and mind is continually changing. You can choose how to change it. Meditation has helped me understand how it works and I’m working on changing myself for the better every day, every moment. Try to understand that we put labels on ourselves that are extremely limiting.

Break the barriers of those self-inflicted labels. How old are you? 25? 30? 50? Who cares? What difference does it make? Are you too old to start a business? Are you too old to take up boxing? Are you too young to be the boss? Why? Who says?

We have the power within us to change everything about ourselves. To completely change who we are. I know we do, because we do it mindlessly every day. We can strip our parts down to the bare bones and reinvent. We can choose to shake ourselves of external pressures places on us by our parents, family, friends, society and build ourselves back up. Imagine how you can alter yourself. Imagine how you can change your entire life when you begin to harness the power to change. You can transform yourself to be the person you choose to be. What’s stopping you?

Author: Mehmet Akcagliyan

I am the Master of my Fate. I am the Captain of my Soul.

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