…a sip of a love story…

Bir acı kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır…
A cup of bitter coffee is worth for forty years… 
Last week, I had shared with you my newly found self-indulgent ritual: making coffee in the Turkish-Greek style every day and enjoying it sip by sip with a small piece of chocolate award waiting for me on the saucer of the tiny cup. Today, I would like to invite you to take a short trip with me to an audio narration in Turkish of what is claimed to be a true love story, told by Recep Atasoy. This story – “Tuzlu Kahve” (“Salted Coffee/Coffee with Salt”), I have found out, has multiple versions in written but also in spoken Turkish texts, including one from the time of the Ottoman Empire. The one here spins, in sum, the following modern tale of love:
They were at a party. The gorgeous young woman attracted the attention of the young man. Many men were after her. Nevertheless, he asked her, if she would have coffee with him.  Not having noticed him at all throughout the festive gathering, she accepted his invitation out of sheer politeness. They went to the cafe nearby. His nerves made him unable to talk. His silence began to make her uneasy, when she said she had better go. At that moment, he called for the waiter with a sudden movement: “Could you please bring salt for my coffee?”
People close to their table turned toward him with puzzled impressions on their  faces. Salt for coffee! He turned bright red out of embarrassment but poured the salt into his coffee with no hesitation. And without skipping a beat, he drank it to the end. With obvious curiosity, she commented: “You…have an unusual taste.” He then started to narrate to her about his childhood, how he used to always play at the seashore and in the sea and how its saltwater had been always present in his palate. “I grew up with this taste,” he said, “I liked this taste very much. That’s why I put salt to my coffee. Because, whenever I feel the salt’s taste, I remember my childhood, our home by the sea and my happy family…My parents still live by that sea. I miss them and my home…very much.”
While he was talking, tears filled his eyes…She was taken aback by the things she had heard. A man who in such an honest way opens up to a woman, a man who misses his home, his family to this extent, must be someone who loves home life, family, she thought. Someone with sensitivity to home life.  She, too, started to talk. Her home was also far away. Just like her childhood was…She told him about her family. Their conversation had become very lovely…Sweet and warm. 
And, as it so happens, their conversation became an exceptionally beautiful beginning to our story…

They continued to see one another, and, just like in any beautiful tale, the princess got married to the prince. And they lived happily ever after. Whenever the princess made coffee for her prince, she put one spoonful of salt into it, always…After all, she knew he liked it that way… 

Forty years later, he bid farewell to the world. He had left a letter to his beloved wife, to be opened after his passing:

“My love, my one and only, please forgive me. Forgive me, for I have built our entire life together on a lie. I lied to you only once…About the salted coffee. Do you remember the first day we went out together? I was very anxious and tense, to the point that I asked for ‘salt’ instead of sugar. I felt so ashamed with you and everyone else looking at me, stunned, that I went on with a lie. I could not have imagined that this life was going to be the foundation of our relationship. Many times, I wanted to tell you the truth. But each time, out of fear, I decided not to. Now, however, I don’t need to fear anything, since I am dying…Hence the truth: I don’t like salted coffee! Such taste is peculiar and disgusting. But I had coffee with that disgusting taste since I was with you the first time. And without an ounce of regret, at that. To be with you was the biggest happiness in my life and I owed that elation to salted coffee. If I were to be born once more, I would like to live everything anew, to get to know you anew and to spend my entire life anew with you, even if a second life were to mean for me to have to drink salted coffee day after day after day…”  

The old woman’s tears entirely soaked the letter.

One day, someone who knew their story asked her: “What is coffee with salt like?” 

Tears welled in her eyes… 

Then she uttered: Very sweet! 



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…on self-indulgence…

Do you self-indulge? Do you, in other words, allow yourself what I too often hear from people drained by work, my old self included, refer to as the “me-time”?

I go on Google, type the word “indulgence” in the search box and, this time -instead of shiver before- glory in the one-word meaning looking back at me: “a luxury.”  Throughout the most recent decades of my life, I had assumed to be guilty of such preposterous behavior as permitting myself any type of luxury.  Are you now tensing up, overcome by the same sense of guilt as I have been for too many years? We are, after all, programmed to work to be able to continue to work in order to work some more, are we not? At least, some of us were and still are so. If what I am saying right now sounds familiar to you, then I can rely on your continued interest today, can I not? (Not for too long, though, no worries…)

As if in a nightmarish trance, I used to work, work, work, and then, work some more while attending as well as I was capable only to my family, friends and work-related commitments. I, myself, was not on my agenda. Ever. Not as long as I can remember. Then came a bodily reminder. An emotional one ensued.  I do self-indulge now and am proud of how I cherish my “me-time”. Especially, since my self-indulgence occurs through a simplest and littlest time-consuming “luxury”: I drink Turkish coffee I prepare daily for myself, diligently adorning the saucer of my tiny Turkish coffee cup with one square of dark chocolate (two squares, if from a miser of a box…), taking a tiny cut from it (or them) each time I sip a drop. If you look closely at the photo below, you will see the cast of my self-indulgent ritual.

for a Sunday reflection

[Photo credit: To self]

In Turkish – my native tongue as you know (or will find out for the first time today, if you happen to be stopping by just at the moment), there is a saying, which has gone on to songs as well as frequent citations: “Bir fincan kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır.” ~ “A [demitasse] of Turkish coffee will be remembered for forty years (Coffee Drinking Habits in Turkey).”

There is a translation of the same saying I happen to like in particular: “[I]f one has been offered a demitasse of coffe[e], [s/]he is obliged for forty years to the one who offered the coffe[e] (Turkish Coffee).” My preference for this translation option is for selfish reasons: since I am offering you my own demitasse of Turkish coffee (virtual realities are all that we have these days), will you be please kindly “obliged” to be here reading my posts for forty years to come? (Only a small feat, isn’t it? More later…)

On a lighthearted note still, I now would like to invite you to the ending of my post via a video on instrumental Turkish music by Grup Gezgin with the band’s designated title signifying my focus today, “Bir fincan kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı var”:



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From Can Yücel’s Poem, “Bağlanmayacaksın”

Bağlanmayacaksın bir şeye, öyle körü körüne.
“O olmazsa yaşayamam” demeyeceksin.
Demeyeceksin işte.
Yaşarsın çünkü.
Öyle beylik laflar etmeye gerek yok ki.
Çok sevmeyeceksin mesela. O daha az severse kırılırsın.
Ve zaten genellikle o daha az sever seni, senin o’nu sevdiğinden.
Çok sevmezsen, çok acımazsın.
Çok sahiplenmeyince, çok ait de olmazsın hem.

You mustn’t get attached to anything in a blinded way.

You mustn’t conclude, “I can’t live without him/her.”

You just mustn’t.

Because you will live.

There is no use for such cliches.

You mustn’t love much, for instance. You’ll break when he/she loves less.

And it’ll be so that he/she will love you less than your love.

If you don’t love much, you won’t pain much.


If you don’t possess much, you also won’t belong much.

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for my poem REMEMBERING Bursa016

Oriental Plane Bursa, Turkey

Platanus Orientalis, Bursa, Turkey

Georges Jansoone JoJan - Own work (own photo)





would you like your door closed


…is it the same shuffle

only a bit faster at speed than yesterday

or was it last week

is it a she like i

what difference does it make anyway

we all look the same

but not at all in a good way

was that an actual laughter


how precious they are


do you need me to pull down the shades


…the grandmother story of that young nurse

my clouds are as intriguingly shaped to me

teasing the sun rays now and again

maybe it is the other way around


come on

shine on my yellowed eyes and face

why not also on my blued, greened and crimsoned vein outlets


too bad you don’t have a view


on the contrary

what about the vast yellow green crimson mountain

its playful clouds

its sunshine – no matter how shy

my breath carried away by my shuffling feet

yes, still yet to arrive…

perhaps, however, sooner than we all think


if only you had a lovely tree to see



she did

like in her most favorite story

a woman alone in her room

only one plane tree escorting her

through the tiny window

she watching its leaves fall

a few at a time

she dying with the last one


would you like your door closed

do you need me to pull down the shades


thank you for asking but no

i think i will be alive for a little while longer


hülya n. yılmaz, 11.1.2014

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…before and after a trying summer…

Aylar sonra Toruncanım kucağımda.Gizem sayesinde.10.2.2014 copy

[Photo: Courtesy of my daughter who gently placed my little big love on my lap without hurting me at all. After months of me having to avoid him, I was overjoyed to feel him this closely. But...if he weren't asleep, I would not have had any chance to hold him on my lap like this,as he is quite an active little one...my thanks to his sleep fairies and to my daughter for thinking of this loving trick!]


As you all know, the late spring and the entire summer spanning to early fall  this year had presented a multitude of ailments to me. Gratitude for my renewed chances for life fills me now. I had written the poem below for my grandson. For a long while, I assumed I wasn’t going to be able to see him ever again. Today, out of joy – and on account of the contrary (!), I am sharing those verses with you. Please be forewarned:  though my little big love most of the time prefers to smile or laugh, he has learned to be quite generous with his tears since…


in his tiny seat with his precious frowning face

about to shed his newly-learned dropful of tears

but as soon as with his bottle she rushly nears

he pauses and awaits in awed anticipation her nestling embrace


where is the engine that runs those kissable fast filled-in arms and legs

what revs up the speed at which they move up down and sideways

those adorably small hands and feet on an invisible wing

one would think he is lifted up onto a sky-reaching swing


sadness in his sky-blue eyes begins as fast to disappear

his whole-body smile then glows in brightness to delight

joins the cutest giggle with a coo – to him ever so dear

mother and son thus embark as one on their blissful flight


© hülya n yılmaz – May 11, 2014


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“Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…”/’I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…’


Nazım Hikmet (1902-1963)

[Photo Courtesy: Free Online Link]


Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…

nasıl da iyi tanımış yurdun bazı gerçeklerini

kadınımızdan biteviye esirgenenleri

ister olsun tek bir başına ya da kocasının yanında

olsun varsın bir bebesi, o verici böğrünün öz yuvasında…


“ince, küçük çeneleri, kocaman gözleriyle

anamız, avradımız, yarimiz” kadınlar

ama anaya yakışan saygıyı analığında bile alamayan analar

“soframızdaki yeri öküzümüzden sonra gelen”…


doğurmasa, erkeğinin göze alamayacağı taze hayatı ona veren

herkes ana oluyorları kendine defalarca dedirten

gene de yüzlerinden tebessüm nadiren eksilen

“aynı yorgun alışkanlık” çemberine mahkum edilen kadınımız…


Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…

nasıl da iyi tanımış seninle beni,

onu şunu bunu

bizi sizi onları

bilmiş çok öncesinden bugünü geçmişi ve de geleceği

bütün dünya bir coşkuya muhtaç bahane ararken bir kutlamaya

‘avradını, yarini’ analıklarında bile hiçe saymaya

ant içmiş erkeklerimizin tek toplar damarlı aile sofrasına

katmış cömert bir asaletle bu dahi destanına…


(Free-translation in Turkish; unrevised/unedited. The distinction between the singular and plural  form of each gender in the version below is intentional: Nazım’s “women” meet here my “woman.”)

I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…

He knew too well our country of birth

The endless deprivation of our woman from life

Whether solo or adjacent to her husband

Or together with her baby at the core of her selfless chest…


Women “with their fine, small chins and large eyes;

Our mother, wife, lover”

But mothers who even in motherhood are robbed of motherly respect

Women “whose places for mealtimes come after our ox”…

The one giving fresh life to her husband – who wouldn’t dare, if she hadn’t…

The one who tolerates the frequented ‘everyone becomes a mother’- shout

Not neglecting a smile from her face nevertheless

The one who gets the sentence of the deadening “same tired“ rut…


I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…

How well he knew you me her us them

The present the past the future of his never forgotten home

So well…

That with his noble saga

He welds our woman to the single-veined family table of our men

Who have sworn to belittle their ‘wives, lovers’ even when they are maternal

While in search of such a joy the entire world seeks an excuse to celebrate …

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Education – past and present…how about the future of it? (The end of the article)

On this Sunday, we have come to the end of my rather long article on education. I hope, though, that you will help me to continue this discussion by sharing your own thoughts and contemplations on the subject, especially, when it comes to the matter of the future of education. Not only in a location where we reside and work but rather through a borderless thought processing. Does each of us, if any at all, have responsibilities as far as at least providing an input to the designated teaching and learning systems? If so, what do we aim to accomplish, if anything at all? Why does this all matter; education, that is? To what extent should it matter, if it is vital in our lives at large? What does it mean to light the fire for anything? For education. Or for life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  


  1. Self-Determination Theory

The “theory of motivation,” known in the field of education as SDT has specific areas of concentration that can be summarized as in the following compact overview:

It is concerned with supporting our natural or intrinsic tendencies to behave in effective and healthy ways. SDT has been researched and practiced by a network of researchers around the world. The theory was initially developed by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, and has been elaborated and refined by scholars from many countries. Deci is currently a professor in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology at the University of Rochester, in Rochester NY, USA; Ryan, a clinical psychologist, and was recently appointed as Professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney, Australia.  Together and separately Deci and Ryan have promoted SDT through theory, research and their ongoing training of scholars (www.selfdeterminationtheory.org).

Non-theorist teachers of our century are known to have experimented with SDT at different levels of schooling in order to “kindle the gift of life” in their students, as Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl, professor of psychology at Carleton University reflects in his blog entry, “Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire.” Bringing the field-specific terminology to our times, Dr. Pychyl discusses SDT as the “fire triangle of motivation” on the basis of the theory established by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci:

Their theory is based on three fundamental human needs: competence, autonomy and relatedness. Their science (and there has been lots of it) has demonstrated how each need or component contributes to motivation. The art is in addressing each component as part of the curriculum and regulating them in the students’ environment to maximize interest and approach behaviors (Pychyl).

Pychyl has his own SDT-adjusted approach, adopted from Wilbert J. McKeachie, retired professor of psychology, for which he assumes “autonomy and relatedness together […] as an overall ‘Will’ component,” while he takes “competence as a ‘Skill’ component.” He arrives at the conclusion that the educator needs both constituents “to light a fire for learning.”

Professionals in the field will find a refreshingly different angle in Timothy A. Pychyl’s commentary: his belief that the “Will&Skill” attainment is notsimply the students’ responsibility,” as largely expected by the teachers. When students “lack the will for learning,” he deliberates, they won’t “come into the classroom on fire for learning.” At the same token, when they “lack skills,” they won’t “think they can succeed at a task” and therefore, “won’t feel very motivated to try.”

While in his reflections Dr. Pychyl doesn’t delve at all (not a goal for him) into the Academic philosophy I have been stressing for its crucial role in the service to humanity at large, they fill a gap the majority of today’s designated debates rules out. In exact line with this paper’s argument, he announces with conviction “that ultimately the student must be the fuel for the fire,” but he also makes sure to assign the other critical responsibility to the individuals with whom it belongs: “but that doesn’t mean that educators don’t have a role in lighting this fire. At the very least, we have to spark the students’ interest (Pychyl).”

How this educator suggests to shift the highly imbalanced attention given today to “cognitive activity” to the factor of emotional involvement by students in their own learning process, is yet another all-inclusive teaching trait shedding the field a much-needed “searchlight” (Chesterton) – and yes, not only with learners in mind but also teachers. For clarity: Dr. Pychyl – drawing his argument from that of Carroll Ellis Izard, author of The Pyschology of Emotions, identifies “interest as one of our primary emotions […]” and as such being important “motivational properties.” The question he raises resonates the core purpose of our travel from Ancient Greece to our times and spaces: “Where’s the fire here without that emotion of interest to ignite it? (Pychyl).”

In order to leave something for imagination, I choose not to elaborate on related questions at this point in time, though several come to mind. I suspect one cliffhanger to be awaiting us in the earlier presentations on the role and function of art in all of this. I will, however, bring this section to an end by providing us with a most meaningful quote from Dr. Pychyl’s text:

Tips, tricks and techniques are not at the heart of education – fire is. I mean finding light in the darkness, staying warm in the cold world, avoiding being burned if you can, and knowing what brings healing if you can cannot. That is the knowledge that our students really want, and that is the knowledge we owe them. Not merely the facts, not merely the theories, but a deep knowing of what it means to kindle the gift of life in ourselves, in others, and in the world (Palmer, p. x; Foreword to O’Reilley, 1998).

While theories for teaching attempt to meet the growing needs in our times for different conceptualizations of education than what we are being given, living anecdotes, such as those mentioned in the section above, manage to instill optimism in the observer, even in the active participant. Alternative thought processes, then, suggest a promise for the thorough fulfillment of the ultimately desired outcome, such as the teachings of an Indian guru: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

  1. Transcendental Consciousness

Born around 1918, died in 2008, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is claimed to have “achieved world renown as the Indian guru who inspired the Beatles and was said to have persuaded them to give up drugs (Malise Ruthven, “Obituary.Maharishi Mahesh Yogi”).” In his obituary text, Ruthven, an academic and writer, stresses “the highly successful empire” Mahesh created “out of selling the spiritual techniques practiced by yogis and Brahmins for millennia to companies as aids to stress management.” He continues to add, however that “he never abandoned his claim to be transforming humanity’s consciousness in the direction of universal harmony and peace (he was happy to claim credit for ending the cold war).”

What seems to be the conceptualization of education within the context of Mahesh’s “dynamic philosophy” was his “call to Transcendental Meditation” – a training intended to “inspire a disheartened man and strengthen a normal mind” in order to acquaint one’s self “with the inner divine consciousness (Ruthven).”

Maharishi Mahesh himself has been quoted as having asserted the following as the outcome of education as perceived by him:

Developing the full creative potential of consciousness makes the students masters of their life; they spontaneously command situations and circumstances. Their behavior is always nourishing to themselves and everyone around them. They have the natural ability to fulfill their own interests without jeopardizing the interests of others. Such ideal, enlightened individuals are the result of ideal education – Consciousness-Based Education (consciousnessbasededucation.org).

Two levels of consciousness are of focus in this context – both being representative of “the state of normal human consciousness”: Transcendental and Cosmic Consciousness. The first is defined as “a state of inner wakefulness with no object of thought or perception, just pure consciousness aware of its own unbounded nature. It is wholeness, aware of itself, devoid of differences, beyond the division of subject and object (consciousnessbasededucation.org).” The training for Cosmic Consciousness, then, is conducive to peacefulness:

The bliss of this state eliminates the possibility of any sorrow, great or small. Into the bright light of the sun no darkness can penetrate; no sorrow can enter bliss consciousness, nor can bliss consciousness know any gain greater than itself. This state of self- sufficiency leaves one steadfast in oneself, fulfilled in eternal contentment.

It is a field of all possibilities, where all creative potentialities exist together, infinitely correlated but as yet unexpressed. It is a state of perfect order, the matrix from which all the laws of nature emerge, the source of creative intelligence (Global Country of World Peace).

At this final stage of the paper, one is reminded of Plutarch’s design of the ideal statesman in the face of Maharishi’s idea of world peace through consciousness-raising meditational teaching – with the inherent difference being the time- and space-dictated need of Ancient Greece: noble leaders with love for the works of virtue. Once again, any form of rigid estimation of the future of humanity within the realms of the future of education would be in vain. Would it be feasible to apply serious research on the ideas mentioned here that are still pending under the auspices of theory? Interest will tell.

The two components I have brought into daylight in this essay’s final section only constitute a mere angle into the possibilities humanity has as offerings to improve its present as well as its future through education of its children within a context that is capable of revolutionizing the stagnant teaching methodologies hiding among dead trees in a forest of brand new potentials. Whether theories, such as SDT, or the concept of schooling by Mahesh for the purpose of transcendental consciousness awaits the future of humanity in its improved state of being is impossible to estimate. For there are too many variables – outside ‘interest’ – that can’t thus far be incorporated into any known form of today’s educational systems as was possible for Plutarch to documentable degree. There is a constant, however, that has proven to surpass time and space – even in this essay’s illustration attempts alone. In the words of Plutarch, that component of humanity – or better yet, its aorta, has proven itself to be unchanging as much as we know history to have repeated itself:

Love, like ivy, is clever at attaching itself to any support (PL MOR 1 P241).

Let us not merely maintain love for personal support.

Let us ignite love’s fire to help us direct it to noble conduct and the works of virtue (Plutarch).

Let us turn education from its losing state of having turned against itself (Chesterton).

Let us instill in young individuals, in schools or not, their value as a harmonious personality, not as a specialist (Einstein).

Let us teach children, in schools or not, what they have inside of themselves: pearls waiting to be cultivated with ardor and persistence (Harris).

Let us show the youth that people must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite (Mandela).

Let us light the fire for education, for life, for love.

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