The other day I felt like traveling again. I swear I could sense the sands under my feet, the smell of the blue sea was vivid in my nose, and I needed my sunblock to minimize the sunburns on my skin.
When a yearning feeling like this hits, I turn to my therapist;
This time, I picked “Eat, Pray, Love”. This is the 5th time I watch the movie. But this time, I noticed something different.
As Liz was in Italy, she entered the Constantine Cathedral. As she stumbled in the doorways of the ancient place, the following lines were spoken by our Julia Roberts:
“A friend took me to the most amazing place the other day. It’s called the Augusteum. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came they trashed it along with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome’s first true great emperor. How could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would be in ruins? It’s one of the quietest, loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won’t let go of because it hurts too good.
We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked at around to this place, at the chaos it has endured — the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged, and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic, it’s just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it.
Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
The first two to three times I watched the movie, those lines didn’t catch my attention. I believe I was eagerly fascinated by the story that I totally missed the words. But now, as a grown-up woman who experiences heartbreaks, the job fails, and changes of hearts of people around, the words have their own effect on me.
I believe in the massive, dogmatizing effect of the right words to the right wound. They say time heal all wounds, I say words can heal would while elevating souls.
In this case, Liz's words made me realize that hitting rock bottom is not necessarily bad. Sometimes, hitting rock bottom is all you need to get back on track.
Embrace Your Ruins
Lately, I moved to Istanbul city. For a long time, I admired how the East hugs the West in this place, and more importantly, how the city embraces its cultural heritage.
You will see the ruins of the ancient days in every corner of Istanbul.
The modern city didn’t remove the remains of the ‘Byzantine Wall’ or ‘Rumli Hisari’. They never dislocate it either. On the total opposite, the whole city was architectured in a way that keeps the ruins in place in a beautiful way — in a powerful way.
Those ruins were there to tell a story of how they once existed, fought, and were conquered. Yet, they managed to find ways to survive.
I found myself guilty lately of staring for hours in ruins and burnt places. In my mind, I truly believe those are our best teachers in this mysterious life.
Life is wild, and it takes us on a whim. There are no rules of combat, and nothing can prepare you for what would hit you next. Yet, in each time we were hit hard, we -all- have figured out a way to survive and bypass those hard times.
The ruins are there not to add beauty or mysterious touch to places. They are there to remind us of our potential — what one is capable of doing.
The Rising Pheonix
You may think this is a cliche, but take a moment with me. A real moment: drop everything in your hands, close your eyes, and breathe slowly — slowly until you can hear your breathing.
Now dig down deep: when was the last time you’ve achieved something really marvelous in your life? Something that really keeps you up day & night thinking about it. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be a great achievement of yours.
Now dig deeper before that moment happened. Did you experience despair, anger, and bad times? Did the time before including a lot of disappointment and lost hopes?
Guess what? you are not alone.
We’ve all been through the moment when we felt that life was not fair to us in particular, and that was the end. There was nothing more to look forward to.
We truly believed that was the end of our ability to dream.
But then, come those revelations, when a helping friend or a total stranger comes in to help you get out of your misery, and in seconds or years — you are miraculously heeled.
You see, it doesn’t matter how long it took you to dig yourself out of that pet hall you found yourself in. You did it once, and you can do it twice. You are unbreakable now because you know you can’t be broken.
You see the gift of revelation your ruins gave to you? You now know your worth, and your belief in yourself can’t be shaken.
You Are a Survivor
Yes, sometimes it took more blood & sweat than what we would have wished for, but we did survive and thrive. Remind yourself of this each time you face a hurdle in your life:
You’ve been through worst
You can handle this
You got this
You are like those ruins: they can tear you apart, burn you to ashes, and put you down for as long as they may well. But inside, you are calm and centered, for you know that you’ve got this, and you know you will survive and thrive.
Just have faith — in yourself.
And repeat again:
“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”