22 Haziran 2018 Cuma


“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Those words that would touch to any reader’s heart is the first line of Anna Karenina by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.  Some argue that the sentence merits one of 100 opening sentences in literature history*.  

In the very first sentence, grand writer declares to his reader that unhappiness is the normal of family life as well as happiness and even being more fascinating.  What’s more interesting, according to literature historians not only Anna Karenina but Tolstoy himself has led an extraordinarily unhappy private life in his elder times. Though the reason I write on Tolstoy is not his literature genius but sharing my admiration on how he dared to learn to ride a bike.

Tolstoy aged 67 loses his son Vanicka aged 7.  Moscow Society of Velocipede-Lovers presents Tolstoy a bike following his loss.  Scientific American Magazine 1896 issue reports as follows.., “..“Count Leo Tolstoy . . . now rides the WheelHe became a devotee, taking rides after his morning chores much to the astonishment of the peasants on his estate.”

One cannot undermine this story with the cliche goes by -learning has no age.  Russia in 1895 on the background, imagining an old man -by 18th century standards, with his snow White, long beard trying to find his balance on a bicycle is utterly amazing.  In an attempt to adapt today, though still unfair having experienced all that modernity, I visualise our fathers, grandfathers around eighty years old on a segway.., probably rather easier to balance compared to a bike.

It is said that Tolstoy cites as follows against judgmental approach for his bold act.

“I feel that I am entitled to my share of lightheartedness and there is nothing wrong with enjoying one's self simply, like a boy."

Illustrated by Painter & Writer Aydan Çelik
(“Tolstoy’s Bike” Drawing from his book titled “Bi Tur Versene” )

Since I am a fan of cycling, I perfectly feel the charm Tolstoy enjoys.  With the least possible equipment, you flow with the wind, land and scent at the most possible highest level.

I don’t know how this story echoes on your mind or spirit, I find it quite empowering that one who challenges his/her limits, persists on new discoveries could nurture life and even may enjoy as children do.

Tolstoy’s Bicycle in exhibition at His Now Museum Home in Moscow

Ending with Henry Ford's words who also liberated people not on 2 but on 4 wheels.
(remembering his Model-T produced by his roll off the assembly line at his factory and making the luxurious automobile a vehicle for common people.)

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”