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Productivity & Work Travel

Taking the Local Versus the Express Train

The main differences between the local and express trains are the number of stops and speed.

You can take an express train that leaves 15 minutes later than the local and still gets to the same destination 5 minutes quicker.

However, seats are limited on the express train while the local has plenty available. The faster train may save you time, but it may also be the least comfortable route.

In many ways, life is a perpetual decision between taking the local or taking the express train.

You can fast-track a goal and be done with it but be really stressed along the way. Or you can gradually get to your destination by slowly progressing, enjoying the process.

Everyone has to choose the path that’s right for them. Some people will mix it up depending on priorities that day or simply what’s available at the time. For instance, you may completely alter your original intention of which train to take simply because it’s running late and the other is available at that moment.

Most important is the realization that you’ve got to get on the train and just go. Once you’re on, you’re on; there’s no turning nor looking back. You have to live with your decision.

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Life & Philosophy Quotes Travel Uncategorized

First sight

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“We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Eliot

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Travel

Turkey, At The Crossroads

There’s incredibly controlled tension in Turkey, a quiescent clash of civilizations between Ottoman and European empires, East and West, Islam and Christianity, and modernity versus traditional ways of life.

The three cities I visited in Turkey each had their own unique way of life.

Ankara is a city five hours East of Istanbul. Ankara is the capital of Turkey and like DC is the host of multiple colleges. It is here where we visited Ataturk’s Memorial (Anitkabir), which looks much like the Lincoln Memorial. Like Lincoln, Ataturk saved and rebuilt the nation.

Ataturk was a visionary, modernizing it for the 21st Century. Ataturk is a god in Turkey, an omnipresent image on signs, billboards, and statues that constantly remind the Turks to continue his vision.

Elmalik is a small village of 90 people, mostly relatives. The town has its own mosque, coffee shop, livestock, and crops. It even has its own unique dance. Elmalik is a flashback to life a century ago before automobiles and of course, the Internet. The villagers work hard, consuming only what they produce. It’s a gentle reminder that we have to be grateful for what we have.

Eregli is a steel town on the Black Sea, 2 hours northeast of Istanbul. My wife grew up in Eregli surrounded by seagulls, fresh fish, ships, and the cave where Hercules is known to have killed the three-headed dog Cerberus. In addition to the expanded family and never-ending servings of Borek, there are two specific things that I’ll never forget about Eregli.

The first is the military. Eregli is a critical industrial harbor, one that Turkey protects carefully to stave off the potential for Russian interference which sits across the other side of the Black Sea. The battle for resources is something Americans rarely feel as a remote island with major distance between competitive powers. Eregli is right at the heart of economic and military attention.

My wife used to live in a different part of Eregli now occupied by conservatives. The area felt like a scene from Iraq, with women in black veils head to toe and kids running around unruly on rocky streets. I felt slightly scared but more curious.

The second lasting memory of my trip to Eregli is the woman that refused to shake my hand. I accepted her behavior but also became frustrated with her lack of compassion and ignorance. Unfortunately, there are many others in Turkey that think the same way. It’s for this reason Turkey is stuck between the past and future.

Instanbul is a clash of civilizations. It’s the archetype of world order, where cultures stand out and get equally embraced. The pluralism in this city goes back to the precedent set by Ataturk to move into modernity. He converted Hagia Sophia into a museum to celebrate all walks of life.

Hagia Sophia is the antithesis to religious war, perhaps the world’s apotheosis of global unity. The Turkish Airlines motto “Globally yours” isn’t so far fetched after all.

The energy, crowds, and pace in Istanbul is just like New York. Just stroll through Istiklal at midnight. Istanbul is the only city in the world that walks backward and forward at the same time, balancing tradition with the future. It’s at the heart of world order, where all cultures and beliefs intertwine.