As I pondered on the thought of so many amazing teachers I got to be led by, I realized that the most inspirational man who had taught me balance, gracefulness, strength and most importantly love was a man who grew up in a small town called Iskenderun, a gulf of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
This man is my father. He is a very simple man whose kindness and patience are true.
He is the man who has taught me discipline, compassion and respect. He has always supported me and he gave me guidance. I remember back when I was in the secondary school, I had just started swimming practices and I was very excited. A couple of weeks of intense practices passed and my enthusiasm lowered. I began to despise the grueling long practices and I really considered quitting. That is when my father took me aside and told me that not everything in life is going to be easy. Sometimes I just have to stick to some things and give them a chance. He was always behind me, pushing me to do better. My father always reminded me of his advice. Sometimes I have to give some things time and then make my final decision. I should do things that made me happy and by giving it some time, I realized that it made me happy.
My father now at the age of 50, is a very hard worker and the main provider for our family. He learned the simple facts of life at very young age and he always lived by them. With his witty remarks, vast knowledge of anything and everything, the conversations we dwelled upon were nothing less than deep. I never needed an encyclopedia in my book collection, I had my father.
He was my best and at times my worst critic. He would teach me things I wouldn't necessarily learn in school and he would always remind me that there is a bigger world out there than just home. There were so many things that we disagreed upon, and this is when he taught me that life is not all roses and chocolates just like yoga isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Yet, we embrace it with all we have. He would emphasize on being positive no matter what, that even when we are at rock bottom, we have the power and the strength to heal ourselves.
I have very fond memories of the times my father and I walked around town together. As my friends would go shopping with their girlfriends, I would always go with my dad. I was always blown away by his immaculate taste in clothing. My father was a very well known man around our neighborhood in London. Doors were held for him, big smiles were exchanged when one saw his face and the vibrant energy he would bring into a room was always noticed and felt.
My father was always interested in every little thing that I did. He came to the funeral I threw for the first mosquito I ever killed and he ate my first organic meal, which was made from grass. He would let me cry as long and as hard as I wanted when none of the fish, birds, or dogs managed to live forever. Rather than bust my chops, he would tell me my soft heart was special, that butterflies and ladybugs landed on me because they could tell. Not only was he a formula wizard when it came to math, but he would also stay up so many late nights with me until I could explain the meaning of pi without his help.
I often think he had thought that I had missed it all and that we would grow apart. The distance we have, although hard at times, is connected by memories that span the miles and in seconds we are together.
Thank you for never letting me fall too hard, but also for the times you said "no" because you thought it would be enabling, for never forcing religion on me, for letting me drift in and out and find my own path. Thank you for the times you never fully fell asleep till you knew I was home safe and for leading by example to teach me the value of random acts of kindness.
Thank you for being my Dad, my teacher and my friend.