A little, but special note from Ayna.
When I was twelve, I spent most of an entire summer vacation under a large tree – books in hand and also under my head serving as pillows, and fruit to keep me satiated and hydrated. My chore that summer was to bring our cow Maya to pasture in a neighboring grassy field. I used to lay there on my blanket, watching the birds fly in and about the tree. They were happy, chatting and flitting away, free and unencumbered by the burdens of humanity. They communicated in singsong. They must be happy, I thought. They are free.
As a Turkmen woman who grew up in a tribal patriarchal culture, exploring freedom and individuality has been an integral part of my journey in this lifetime. My familial culture functions within a tribal design, where the individual is less important, and individual freedoms are often not as inherent. And so my quest took me far from tribe to discover my individuality, and then back into it, to find my unique place within it all.
Last spring my journey into freedom found me in a harness, attached to a paraglider off Mount Babadag in Turkey. Having never flown before, fear coursed through my system. My adrenaline pumped, and the voice in my head urged me to reconsider my adventure for the day. Scared but committed, I ran off the mountain, was lifted by the winds, and felt my energy shift completely. I found myself embodying an experience of pure surrender and awe as I floated in the air, suspended in the blue and vast sky.
As I continue to learn how to fly, surrendering to the flow of the winds like the birds, I cherish the lesson I now carry within and express out into my world: On the other side of surrender is freedom. This is my medicine. It is my celebration of the beauty of life and our capacity to be free. May we all have some levity in our suffering and light in the darkness.