Question 3 : What is your ‘verb’?

This podcast was one of the highlights of my week, and even more so as it led me to change the question I’d write about. It’s full of nuggets of wisdom and moments of truth — and still open and fun. I would have listened to it just because Esther’s on, anyway.

Esther Perel is one of my saviours in life (yes, my admiration for her is a bit dramatic). She’s a renowned psychotherapist, who has been exploring the tension between the need for security and the need for freedom in human relationships. Walks in Battersea Park where I listened and took notes on her couple therapy sessions “Where shall we begin?” kept me sane back in 2020. Her work has been my harbour on sleepless nights, while I pondered the big questions of all sorts of relationships.

“Where should we begin?” Esther asks, and I’m ready for the session.

After a conflict : “What does this mean? Is this a sign of a battle or a petty argument? Shall I just let it go?”

On a brilliant day: “Is it ever possible to have this day again and again? Am I being too gushy? What’s real here?”

Chatting to a close friend accompanied by a bottle of wine is always the best relief, but I’m always assured I’ll feel better the morning after when I hear Esther’s solid and transforming questions. Her power lies in the moment where I am finally able to articulate what has been nagging me for months with clarity. Even if I avoided facing the question deep down, Esther’s crystallized storytelling on paradoxes of human relationships unlocks me.

Through her enquiry, I acknowledge that quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives, again and again. It is easy to agree with this advice, but I do not always navigate my life as an embodiment of this view.

Shall we get coffee and head to Battersea? https://thatgirloutdoors.com/battersea-park-walk-river-london/

So when I was listening to Unlocking Us, Brene Brown getting “Esther Perelled” led me to think : What would Safak mean as a verb? Am I at peace with what comes to mind as an answer here?

I associated myself with verbs signifying movement. Travelling from one place to the other, transitioning from one time to the next. Whether it’s running with eagerness or walking with a sense of stillness, constantly on the move or thinking of the next move. Changing routes and plans or dancing to celebrate the arrival at a certain destination. This may sound full of life and energy at first but it’s not great when you find it difficult to pause. The rhythm of the dance starts feeling rushed, the runner is going in circles.

The next association was around connection. I thought of how I found myself in others, how I loved the colorful lines between us getting bolder and brighter as we get close. A verb that corresponds to the warm, fuzzy feeling of minds and hearts meeting. Knowing that some kind of energy is flowing in between and noticing how it nurtures us. The tough reality is, this dreamy world is not always sustainable. And the extremes of such a connections means I sometimes lose myself in the world of the other: I own their stories, their struggles and their identity till it becomes unbearable. You’d guess where that leads. The color palette reflecting my personality is definitely more of sharper reds and brighter tones than hazy green and blue.

Beyond the initial impression, time and space also changes who I am. I can not recognize the nerdy, obsessive teen or even the 30 year old arriving in London. This is not just about who I became over years though. The change also happens at micro levels: when I step in to a hot room to move into my body, I get to be a yogi for 90 minutes and when I leave the premises, things can quickly get foggy and rainy again. The same pattern repeats depending on who I am with : as the mood, the conversation or even the silence still gets distilled with the person next to me.

None of the above is anything unique to me. We move along a spectrum more or less, going through similar adventures. At the same time, you could also argue that our temperament or our perspective is so different, even the nuances changes the way we live. This makes the question “Who am I?” nearly an impossible one, even if we avoid the philosophical references to the Matrix and the simulation.

‘Embracing the paradox’ is the emerging cliche, which I find truth in here. I am just a human and I am capable of all the things humankind does. I’m no more than a stardust and yet, the whole cosmos is contained inside me.

The paradox : Caught between a cactus and a coconut, stuck between a rock and a hard place.

If you’re reading this, I’d love to hear what you think my verb means — open letter to everyone.

Am I at peace with what ‘being Safak’ means? It’s definitely like a warm hug on easy days. And surprisingly colourful on faster days. Then, when the route gets bumpy or I question my will to continue on the same path, being Safak gets very uncomfortable. For weeks and weeks, it’s a mix of effort, boredom, distraction, connecting the dots or letting go.

What we do with ourselves during such times always fascinates me. I believe no personal coach, no therapy guru can define the options here. We change what we do, when we feel the absolute need and the true desire.

No option is right and wrong, just as your ‘verb’ is what it is on 4th February 2022. This is what we are experiencing now. Can we ease tight shoulders and clenched fists and relax into that? I’m doing this now, join me.

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