Freedom Blog

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Travels in Turkey - Ancient Rhythms, Things Don't Really Change

No Limits | The Freedom Blog

Travels in Turkey- Ancient Rhythms, Things Don't Really Change.

Written by Steven Griggs |

'Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.'
Sholom Aleichem

"Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living?"
Bob Marley

In Turkey, as in everywhere in the middle east, although the cities are very busy and packed with people, most people live in the villages. 

In the cities and in every village there are streets with seemingly endless shops selling everything you can think of. There are also open air markets and bazaars selling fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts, and variety of goods and services.

You can have your car fixed, get a haircut, have a suit made and buy your dinner all within about 50 yards.

You never see shopping centers.

It is a neighborhood type of thing.

In the villages and even in the cities, everyone knows everyone in their neighborhood and all their personal business. You can't make a move without someone telling someone else they saw you and what you were doing.  

This creates a kind of controlled environment, a system that allows you very little freedom. 

In the eastern parts of Turkey there were arranged marriages. During your childhood your family would have committed you to marry a certain boy or girl.

That was it. No choices.

If you didn't like your husband or wife, forget it. There is no divorce. If you left your spouse or got a divorce your family would disown you.

This kind of structure was in place all over the Middle East for hundreds of years, maybe even thousands.  The same goes for many other areas of Africa and Asia.

You were born, you grew up, raised a family, went to church, mosque or temple. You never left. You raised your children, your children stayed close, and when you got old and feeble they took care of you.

That was life back then. People rarely left their villages, even to visit a neighboring village. Your world was very, very small.

Look at the western world now.

Can you imagine living like this in the U.S or Europe? It's basically inconceivable.


It's because we have choices. We have freedom.

Or do we?

What have we traded for our "freedom"? What bargain have we struck to have a big beautiful home, expensive cars and all the things we think are important?

Why have we chosen a life that requires both parents of a family to work 8-10 hours a day just to make their payments?  Yes, many people make more than enough to pay the bills, even save for the future or fund a child's education, but at what cost?

We spend our lives working for money to pay for the houses we only spend a few hours a day in, spending limited time with our spouse or kids, sleeping for 6-8 hours, only to get up and do it again.

Yes, we have freedom but is it real? Or is it an illusion. An illusion that we have free choice?

Yes, you can take extra vacations, if you're allowed.

Yes, you can work less and spend more time with your family but what happens if your income goes down and you can't make your payments?

Yes, you can travel the world but only if you wait until you're 65 and retired.

Yes, you could quit your job and try to follow your passion by starting a business but your spouse would probably freak out.

So in some ways we are very similar to the villagers living in Turkey and the Middle East.

We are stuck.

The major difference is that we know what's out there. We know there's a whole world out there, we've seen it, and we can go there. We have been there.

But what is worse?

Living in a closed world where you don't have choices or even the knowledge of anything else? Where there is no future-thinking, no dreaming. Where your world is very, very defined .... and accepted. And therefore easier and simpler, no dreams=no stress.

Or is it worse living in a world obsessed with more, bigger, better, newer? A world based on the promise of a future, the hope of "someday", the coming day of your freedom?

They say ignorance is bliss and it really is.

But we can't go back. We can only find ways to change our circumstances, to modify or remodel our lives.

And slowly, bit by bit, we can change things. We can step back from the seeking and the needing.

We can simplify our lives, reduce our requirements, reduce our needs and reduce the amount of time we trade for money.

Try it.

Be the first in your village to step outside its boundaries and become free.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Travels in Turkey - “From a Goddess to a Belief System"

No Limits | The Freedom Blog

Travels in Turkey- From a Goddess to a Belief System"

Written by Steven Griggs |

We Are What We Believe We Are
C.S. Lewis

"You Only Truly Believe That Which Drives You To Action"
Douglas Cheney

In ancient times the peoples of the world were pagans, they believed in many, many Gods.

Some of these Gods originated in Greek myths, Zeus, Apollo, Athena, Aphrodite etc.

Some of the Gods changed their names when the Romans came along. For example, Zeus became Jupiter, Athena became Minerva, and Aphrodite became Venus. One God, Apollo, got to keep his name.

The people of the time believed that everything that happened to them was the result of one or more gods being upset. They weren't being paid enough attention to. So the person would sacrifice an animal or donate something to the offended God to appease him or her and then hopefully things would go back to normal or at least the bad things that were happening would stop.

A belief that has carried through from all those years ago is the evil eye.

The evil eye originated from the myth of the gorgon, Medusa. Medusa was a beautiful woman with blue eyes and supposedly, hair of snakes. She had the power to turn anyone who looked at her into stone.

In the Greek myths she was slain by Perseus, who cut off her head and carried it with him to use against his enemies.

That tradition carried forward in the form of a small Medusa amulet that people would carry with them to ward off the evil eye.

The evil eye is called this because it refers to anyone who looks at you in an envious or jealous way. The people believed that envy and jealousy was evil and could create bad luck for you.

During the Christian times the authorities wanted to eliminate any connection to the old pagan ways so they made it illegal to carry the amulet of Medusa.

So eventually the amulet evolved into a blue eye.

If questioned the people would say it was the eye of a fish, the symbol of Christ. But it wasn't.

Today you can see the evil eye everywhere in Greece and Turkey.   

This ancient story is a reminder of the power of belief. Over thousands of years people have continued to believe in the power of the evil eye.

Today many such beliefs have carried over, such as throwing spilled salt over your left shoulder (to ward off bad luck) covering your mouth when you yawn (so spirits can't go into your body), etc.

So if we can believe in things that we know aren't real and don't really have any current relevancy how strong could our own internal, silent beliefs be?

What do you believe?

As a way to get a glimpse into your beliefs, watch yourself.

Watch how you talk to yourself.  Do you hear the comments you make to yourself?

"I don't really like to socialize, I think I'll just stay home" "I could never do what he does, he has guts" "What do I have to offer?"

These are clues into your underlying beliefs. What do you really believe to have this thought?

Watch yourself, watch how you operate.

The first step to working on your limiting beliefs is to recognize that you have them. We all do.

Then you begin the work of changing your beliefs.

In the meantime it still wouldn't hurt to have an evil eye hanging around.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You Watch, I Drive!

No Limits | The Freedom Blog

Travels in Istanbul - "You Watch, I Drive!"

Written by Steven Griggs |

You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.
Steve Maraboli

"Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing."

I'd finally arrived in Istanbul late at night. My sister had arranged for a driver to pick me up at the airport.

My sister has lived in Istanbul for 5 months and does not have a car. Generally to get to Istanbul from the outlying suburb she lives in requires a long walk to the subway, a long ride to the docks, a ferry ride across the Bosporus to Kadakoy and then a tram ride to go anywhere else in the city.

So for my first jaunt in Istanbul late at night I thought it would be better to hire a driver. Very little signage is in English, very few people speak it and she lives very far away from the airport.

She said my driver spoke English and at first he did. But after the greeting and a few short sentences that was it.

At first everything seemed fine but then he started stopping at every cross street and looking around at the different buildings. After the 5th or 6th time he stopped at a crossroad I asked if he had the number of my sister's Turkish friend to call for better directions. At first he ignored me, but after the second time I mentioned it he turned to me and said "You watch, I drive".

I immediately got it and said nothing more. But it made me think, and I realized I was holding on too tight to knowing. I was trying to control the outcome by trying to influence the driver.

Yes it was important to get to my destination, but I knew I would eventually get there.  It just might take longer, and maybe I would get a chance to "watch" a little more.

But it really struck home as I realized I was not staying within my control zone, meaning within my own mind and body.

I continued to watch myself over the next few days.  I noticed that I was continually trying to "control" my progress on the various transportation legs by visualizing the next the steps I would be taking, trying to anticipate what was next.

Where would I stand to avoid the crush of the crowd onto the ferry, what cabin would I get on in the subway, etc.

I had to remind myself that it didn't matter where I stood in the line, it didn't matter what the crowd was doing, none of it really mattered. All that mattered was that I was in Turkey getting ready to visit some of the most fascinating historical sites in the world. Some of the places I'd always dreamed of visiting.

So right then I decided - I am here, I am living a dream and I will just sit back and watch from here on out.