When I was a kid, I had something pretty special in my room. Placed right on the corner of my desk was, for several years, a small daily calendar that looked like this:
Each page represented one of the year’s 365 days and on each of them was presented a wonder, photographed and explained. There wasn’t only the seven wonders of the world, since there are much more than seven days in a year – which is, in the end, incredibly fortunate given the tremendous amount of wonders on our planet. In my little calendar where thus some of the most captivating features of the vastness that surrounds us: impressive monuments, amazing animals, mythical places and unimaginable traditions.
There was, to name only a few, the legendary Komodo dragon:
The millenary Christian cities carved in the cliffs of Cappadocia, Turkey:
The grandiose cathedral of Vasily the Blessed in the Red Square in Moscow, Russia:
The surreal karst landscapes of Zhangjiajie, China:
Each and every page of this calendar helped to give the little boy I was a profound thirst for travels and discoveries, a thirst that is still driving me to this day. More precisely, all those enthralling peeks in the infinity of the world out there contributed to fuel a unique flame:
There is, perhaps, one of the main reasons keeping me far from home. One of the main reasons that keeps me moving, traveling, working.
In Australia, when my roommate Jess and I did some exercise to find out our “life missions”, i.e. our goals and/or fundamental aspirations in life, I was taken aback. Unable to choose or to limit myself, I could never get further than this desire to “experiment everything”. Everything.
There is, once again, the doing of a very well rooted curiosity.
Today, it’s also this unending hunger that explains why I’m lazing in Konya, a one million inhabitant city mostly unknown of the public. The public I should belong to, though, Western and North American.
Except that in my tiny calendar was a page about… the Whirling Dervishes.
These religious men, the “Mevlevis” as they are called, still carry an 800 year old muslim order’s traditions. Dancing, whirling and praying in a peaceful and hypnotic ceremony, they embody marvellously well the philosophy of love and humanity preached by Rumi, their founder*. Dressed with an inexplicable costume for the little boy I was, the Mevlevis definitely did leave a trace in my imagination.
« All I dreamed about was growing like a plant to get closer to the sun. When would I be a grown up? »
– Alexandre Jardin (Bille en tête)
Last week, I had the chance to sit in one of those traditional religious dances, precisely where Rumi lived, wrote and taught. Precisely where the Mevlevis order was born. In Konya.
And to be honest, it wasn’t me who sat down to enjoy the Whirling Dervishes performance: it was a little boy. A young kid, still carrying fifteen years later a formidable desire not to be content with a picture on a calendar’s page. A page that kept coming back, year after year, hammering in him all of the world’s beauty and reminding him how seizable it is behind his bedroom window.
A page which, along with a few hundred similar ones, ended up building an untameable and incurable curiosity.
I do not have my little calendar anymore. I do not know which day of July we are or which day of the week either. But the plant grew up, Alexandre Jardin would say.
I became a grown up.
And since the little boy I was swore with his best friend to never become a serious, flat and boring adult, I decided to cultivate that very curiosity. We promised each other to never stop playing, laughing and stumbling. It gave me the chance to experience many euphorias, to witness several exceptions and, among other things, to take all the photos appearing in this text myself.
Except for the last one. That one was taken by Julie, the little girl with me.
* One on the most influencial poets of the Muslim world, peace and tolerance philosopher known in the West as the best-selling poet in the United States of America, Mevlana Celaddiin-i Rumi’s renown is well established. His Mausoleum, in the center of the regional capital Konya, is known to be a pilgrimage site and the second most visited attraction in Turkey. In a country more visited than Greece, England or even Thailand, that’s something!