My Istanbul life of hookah, beers, Shakespeare and bird pooping - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

My Istanbul life of hookah, beers, Shakespeare and bird pooping

Thinking on Istanbul and the day that was essentially: Wake up.  Look at the Aya Sofia through the bedroom window.  Drink Turkish coffee.  Walk the old town, take a Turkish Bath, or visit the spice market – then go perform The Tempest for Shakespeare lovers, poets, and Turkish students before heading out for a night of Nargile (hookah) and beers.

It’s easy to think this is the high life, the right life, the simple life – and you’d probably be right in that for 10 days: it was.  For 10 days all The Tempest Ladies and I had to do was live and perform in Turkey.  No day jobs: no errand running, filing, phone answering or schedule making.

We forgot the Devil wore Prada.

It was just life – lamb eating, apple tea drinking, café sitting, boat riding, palace visiting, mosque seeing, bird pooping (this happened to me in the Aya Sofia.  My tour guide told me to buy a lottery ticket because, apparently, in Istanbul a bird pooping on you means good luck.  And because my bird pooping incident happened in what used to be an old church, I take it as a direct blessing from God – thanks, big guy).  Clearly…it was the artist’s haven.

It was a wonderful reminder of what the artist’s life can (and should) be like and that it’s so important to live life fully – drinking everything in – from the weather, scenery, and atmosphere to the culture, food, and life habits around you (in this case, bird poop lottery luck) – because life feeds art.

Life inspires and enriches and fills up your spirit so that you can’t do anything else before you make a neon painting of Marilyn Monroe’s face or sculpt a roll of toilet paper or write that possibly-too-corny love song that’s been whirling about in your head.  And that art, in turn, enriches and inspires someone else to go out and live their life fully, so that in their full lives they’re also inspired to create art.  This art-life cycle in yourself spins out, cycling and reaching other people, whose influence cycles and reaches even more people so that the reach expands far greater than anyone could ever know or calculate.

It’s infinite – art, life.  It’s eternity.  It’s now.  So what better thing to do than get out and live life fully – in other countries and cultures (yes, of course, if you can swing it), but in your own environment, too.

Maybe instead of watching another hour of TV, you write your own pilot or instead of walking your dog around the same street, you take her down a new path.

It’s consistently finding the unroutine in the routine.  Traveling can been a good way to stimulate that – you’re immediately eating yogurt with your pasta and hearing the call to prayer at 5am instead of waking up and reading the news while Live with Kelly plays in the background (guilty pleasure – when will she find a new co-host??)!

So then when you come home from your trip, you’ve forgotten the old routine (Live with who?) and you have to establish a new one – you’ve just gone away and done this in a foreign place so it won’t be as scary this time – it will just transform your old routine into new.

Okay, so maybe you can’t make it to Istanbul today – but maybe Delaware or Virginia?  Maybe instead of the mall you go to the Smithsonian or the National Aquarium instead?  Where’s the nonroutine for you?


About the author

Jana Stambaugh

Jana (it rhymes with “banana” or “anna”) is an artist from Clarksville, Maryland. Growing up her parents always told her to “be whatever you want to be.” Seeing as she has come from three generations of doctors, she obviously became an artist. As an actor, she has performed internationally Off-Broadway, and locally to the Baltimore/DC area. Favorite roles include Juliet, Ariel, and Caliban. Jana is the Founder of Red Connect Online, a social media marketing company that creates customized advertising campaigns for small businesses. You can listen to her podcast, Confessions of a Closet Christian, on the E-Squared Media Network. You can also follow her on Twitter (@Jana_Stambaugh) and friend her on Facebook. Contact the author.
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