Deniz The Server
This interview with Deniz is part a series on real people living nomadic, semi-nomadic and location-independent lifestyles. Deniz is a permaculture advocate and environmentalist from Turkey. A former architect, she was what you would call a seeker. But she found her path living deliberately and in the selfless service of others. Her journey is an inspiring story of simplicity, dedication and compassion.
FF: Tell us a little about yourself.
Deniz: I’ve lived most of my life in big cities. I have studied architecture and interior design and worked in this field for 13 years. Back then I was earning good money. I was surrounded by lovely people. But in those years there was something lacking. I realized that life is giving me so much, but what am I giving to life in return? Is it just about making myself more comfortable? But without doing anything at all for the benefit of others? I started to question what this life is about.
FF: What was your reaction?
Deniz: I somehow got interested in permaculture and started to dive deep into the field of ecology. A day came when I knew that I had enough of my old lifestyle. So I quit my job. First I studied and worked with farmers. I found that there is an urgent need to protect agricultural biodiversity. I moved to a village and started a new, really simple life. For the next 3 years, I dedicated myself to a seed saving project that I started.
FF: Did you have doubts or fears ditching your career?
It wasn’t about being courageous. For me there was no other way. I have this really strong pull towards this direction. All the fear and anxiety about the future almost disappeared because of it.
FF: What did you learn from your time living in a small village?
Deniz: The time came to leave the village and live my childhood dream of traveling. It’s a subtle impulse that I always carried in my heart. Traveling is to me one of the deepest and most profound ways to experience life itself. It brings a lot of richness into your life. The cultures, the landscapes, the way people are living, the weather, the biodiversity. I was particularly attracted to the East, because I felt it would also be a spiritual journey. I started from Nepal, then went to India, Thailand and Cambodia.
FF: What is the most important lesson you learned during your travels?
Deniz: I am very grateful to have learned to go into the depth of my being. To be in the present moment. This is one of the most fundamental things we need to keep our eyes on. In my former life I wasn’t present. I was always living in the past. Always thinking about what the future will bring. It pulls us away from the most meaningful and sacred part of life. For the last 2 years I now really feel this vitality, this awareness in my life. And traveling helped achieve this.
FF: After Asia you came back to Turkey. What’s next?
Deniz: I traveled through Asia for one year. I understood afterwards that there are many places in my own country that I haven’t visited before. My main motivation is to be in the nature. Nowadays I am in Turkey and don’t have proper plans for the near future. As you travel you come across many inspiring people. That’s why I don’t make any plans. You never know.
FF: You put a lot of emphasis on serving others.
Deniz: It’s like breathing in and breathing out. Giving my time and attention fully with an open heart is interestingly also receiving. Whatever you give, you get it back. As you start to understand more deeply love and compassion, it becomes clear. Miracles start to happen in your life!
FF: How do you finance your lifestyle?
Deniz: Step by step, I am freeing myself. First, I didn’t know much about making money. Initially I had some savings when I was an architect. I slowly spent it, but it eventually ran out. Now I take the opportunity to volunteer in the places that i visit. I can be anything, but mainly with small scale farms and agricultural organizations. I usually don’t get paid, but it provides me with accommodation and healthy food. I’ve also started to do some freelance translation gigs. And I am planning to give guided meditation sessions based on donations. Paradoxically, as my fear about money related issues dissipated, more and more opportunities appeared. Surrender to what is coming, life is supporting us more than we expect.
Deniz: You are always full of smiles and happiness. What is your advice?
FF: I find it meaningful to be a student of a tradition. Not in a religious sense, but the East has many different techniques for meditation and mindfulness. Try different things and find what suits you best. Each and everyone of us is unique, and so is our path. It’s best to start with a practice and patiently establish a foundation. Later, you can find your own way. This is freedom. But more importantly, I invite you with all my heart to simply practice being in the moment, as it is. With no pressure, no reaction. Just being aware, giving yourself to the moment. It’s worth giving it a try.
FF: Thank you so much!