Survival instinct strong among Turks
Have you ever thought of the things that make you hold onto your life?
When I was watching the authorized documentary on the late musician Kurt Cobain, “Cobain: Montage of Heck,” I thought that in some people, the basic instinct of survival does not exist. It just does not exist.
They live for some reason, create a wonderful world of imagination, inspire many people, leave a legendary memory and just leave this life that we know of.
People fight with other people’s thoughts, learn to cope with them, and sometimes take them as transformative elements in their lives, but Cobain let the pain that other people created consume him.
His bipolar disorder, abdominal pain and addiction to drugs didn’t help much either; but…
I can’t stop myself thinking… What if he lived today?
We already know that he hated interviews with the press; he wanted his music to speak for itself and never wanted someone else’s words to describe his work of art but…
Would anything be different if he were alive now?
Would he be giving interviews sitting on a comfy couch in his cozy house with Courtney, or would they already be divorced, with Kurt in his second marriage?
Last month, I was returning from a trip to Los Angeles. On the 14-hour flight, I met someone. A nice-looking lady in her 50s, someone whose presence you feel without seeing her at first.
I could just tell you that there was something about her just by looking at her face… Some kind of energy, an instinct that you can’t explain with words; like a color, a scent, a feeling… She was sitting next to me and I just knew that we would be talking to each other right away.
She said a warm hello and good morning after we woke up on the long flight. We talked about our jobs, our mutual love for Los Angeles and Istanbul.
Then she started to tell her life story.
In the mid-1990s, she was a happy woman living in Nişantaşı with her beloved husband and kids. Having not worked her whole life, she described herself as “a lucky girl.” She wanted to be a full-time mother, not wanting to work with a daughter and a newborn. She got what she wanted.
One sunny day almost 30 years ago, they were returning back from a trip from Şile, one of the places where they went for summer vacation.
That’s when her story began…
The car slipped and drove over a cliff.
Her husband and newborn were killed right away. She was wounded badly and would become a resident patient in one of the biggest hospitals in Istanbul for more than six long, painful months.
Her doctors were quite pessimistic, they said that she wouldn’t function as she did before, she wouldn’t walk and more importantly, she wouldn’t be mentally stable for the rest of her life…
The shock that she had after she learned that she lost her beloved husband and son in the tragic car crash destroyed her mentally.
Slow but determined, she was able to get up on her own feet and walk. Then she tried to digest the news that her life wouldn’t be the same after the accident.
But there was something that prevented her doing that: Istanbul was reminding her of nothing but good memories. Good memories that would not be repeated ever again. They were all gone. Her husband, her little son… All gone.
She decided to leave the city. As a woman that had never worked in her whole life, she didn’t know what to do.
She remembered a holiday that she spent in Los Angeles and thought “What a great city to live in,” so she just wanted to go there.
She bought a one-way ticket, flew to Los Angeles with 300 dollars in her pocket, but no English, no home and no job.
The first years were like hell. She didn’t know what to do and where to go, whom to talk to. All she was able to do was to find jobs like washing dishes – jobs that didn’t require talking to other people.
Then she slowly progressed. After she learned English, she found a proper job that allowed her to pay the rent; she saved some money and decided to enroll in a cooking school.
After 30 years of struggle with the deep pain of loss, she is now a warrior, living all by herself, a prosperous life in Beverly Hills, working as a chef in one of the top restaurants there, occasionally visiting her beautiful daughter who lives in Istanbul.
And our paths crossed on this airplane, sitting next to each other.
I just thought – wow – what a story!
Just after I returned home, I stumbled upon Kurt Cobain’s documentary and watched it from the beginning to end with bated breath. Maybe that was the first time that I’ve ever felt the pain that he had in his life. Maybe it was the first time that I really felt the legend that I adored my whole life.
I remember myself in 1994, sitting on my bed in front of Kurt’s huge poster in my room, crying and asking “Why?”
Maybe there’s no answer to it. Maybe it’s a matter of being human. Maybe some people have more bonds with life itself, the universe… And others just want to dissolve, vanish; they just don’t want to hear what other people think of them…
But there’s just one thing that I wish Kurt had been able to say to himself: The piece that Vanity Fair published about me and Courtney might be very unfair. People might think many things about a public figure; they could be true or they could be false… You just can’t control other people’s thoughts… You. Just. Can’t.
He might have said, “Who cares what people think of me? This is my life, my job and my music and I want to fight for it.”
But some people aren’t cut out that way.
They just come to life, become an inspiration and leave.
I just wish he were the other way around.
It’s one life that we know of, and it’s worth living no matter what.