“Am I becoming an Individualist?”

The Principle CharacterAyşe, a woman in her early 40’s.

The SceneIn her bedroom, Ayşe is standing, wearing a night robe with hood and belt. The lighting makes it appear that she is in a spacesuit.

Ayşe’s Monologue:Spoken as if talking to an audience…

I have been fascinated with astronauts lately. I constantly watch space-walk videos. I admire their team spirit. I envy them when I see how they float with their hair pointing up, doing summersaults in the air. They look like joyous children inside disciplined adults.

I am in awe when I see them space-walk with umbilical chord-like cables attached to the space station while they are in the middle of… nothing… watching the earth. It is an amazing sight, the body in space. They seem to be on the edge of life and death, light and darkness, floating inside a 300-pound spacesuit, watching the earth.

I guess one can not achieve objectivity in any better way than that.

Recently, I wondered what else my fascination with astronauts might signify. The meaning of it caught me off guard when I was thinking of a friend. In my mind, I was having a conversation with her. At some point I heard myself telling her:

“Actually, Mary, I don’t care what you think of me.”

“I care what I think of me.”

“This is my life.”

Poor Mary. She was the friend in my mind. We were having a visit, with physical distance and in colorful masks. I was about to say something, but prefaced it this way:

“I don’t know if what I am about to say will make sense to you.”

“You may think I am too weird.” 

I stoped as this question popped up: Why  am I constantly imagining what others might think about me? Why am I then rebelling against the thoughts I make up ?

For example, the other day this thought came up when I wanted to eat a piece of bread with butter. I got hungry and opened the fridge and there it was:

“Bread and butter we have here, haven’t we?”

“I guess Miss Ayşe wants more flesh around her waist?”

It sounded like someone I know, but I couldn’t tell who. The thought started criticizing me for wanting bread and butter. Soon I had an army of thoughts:

“You should watch what you eat, as there are so many hungry people in the world.”

“You should not consume much. Why are you so greedy?”

“Would I want to get fat? Of course I would as I have no will of my own.”

“What kind of person am I anyway…?”

So, eating one piece of bread with butter turned into a war. I got really upset and ate three pieces.

I recently realized that this thought that multiplies itself into an army is actually just one big mouth. It is as big as the planet, really. It is like when you look from space you see the planet as one big mouth that constantly says mean things.

The mouth judges everything: what I wear, how my hair looks like, the shape of my body, how much I earn, whether I am married or not or who I want to get married to, my profession, my gender, the children I have, the children I don’t have, the culture I come from, the culture I don’t come from, where I live, the lines around my eyes. It tells me constantly about the things I haven’t achieved. I failed in this. I could have done that better.

I am so f%$#@ tired!

So yesterday I was watching this astronaut video on Youtube. The astronaut said she is so fascinated by the planet. She took thousands of pictures from space. The northern lights were so special, the continents looked so amazing, she was so mesmerized blah blah… As I watched her I realized I was so jealous. I thought:

“I want to float like her. I don’t want to look at the world and see only a big mean mouth.”

“Does this sound too weird to you?”

That is when I said out loud to “the Mary in my mind”:

“Actually, Mary, I don’t care what you think of me.”

Mary looked at me with big eyes.

I said again:

“I don’t care what you think of me!”

She smiled and said: “Ok?!” She looked like she was surprised.

I  was enjoying my little statement so much so I said it in different languages:

“Ich gebe kein Bock auf was du über mich denkst!”

“Nao me interessa o que tu achas sobre mi!”

“Hakkımda ne düşünürsen düşün. Um-rum-da de-ğil!”

“Je m’en fu! Pense que-est-ce que tu veux sur moi!”

And after a while, I began feeling like I was floating. I slowly floated out of the space ship. And I began watching the world.

Then I saw the big mouth. Once more:

“I don’t care what you think of me. This is my life!”

The mouth began to shrink. It got so tiny that I started recognizing the oceans, then the mountains, the forests, oh my God the northern lights, the mesmerizing continents. I imagined people going about their daily business, I imagined Mary in her daily life, babies being born, people dying, people recovering, animals. Then I imagined some people looking at me, some waving with a smile. I moved on to the oceans, forests, rivers, villages…

If you could see… maybe you do see… it was so real. The world was not just a big mouth.

Suddenly I heard the voice of a neighbor from my child hood home: “Ayşe! You are becoming so selfish! Are you becoming an individualist? Not caring about any body else but your self? Are you abandoning all your cultural values? Are you now going to eat in public transportation and not consider someone else might be hungry and they might not have the money to buy it? Are you not going to consider the impact you have on others? Not care for your family, for your distant relatives, help strangers not just your own tribe? Are you going to try to stand out now? Are you going to praise your self and not let others praise you if they sincerely want to? Shame on you!”

I held my breath, closed my eyes, I began doing some involuntary summersaults in space. I could not control myself. I kept falling.

I opened my eyes and saw that i was approaching the continents, countries, oceans, lakes, northern lights, people, animals. I said this is it Ayşe! Say your prayers, you are dying.

And just before I was going to hit the earth really hard, a parachute opened up. I saw the mountains, valleys, lakes, the real people, real animals, trees, cars, bridges as I was floating… I came closer, closer, closer…


I landed.

I am on the earth now.

My umbilical cord… I attached to… my own belly.

Am I becoming an individualist?

I became an astronaut who just landed softly on earth.

Once this pandemic is over, I can’t wait to travel. I will first visit my home. You can join me if you want to.
When you are there Mary, please don’t eat in public transportation unless there is place designated for eating.

And please do not praise your self. Let others praise you.

But then again, you be you… and you will be fine.