I am a big believer in expressing gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in my life and feel this sentiment should also include being thankful for mundane things. I don’t have a lot of them but I appreciate everything I have. I am thankful for my bed, pillows, and blankets, for instance, as well as the shower and hot water, dishes, cutlery, dishwasher, fridge and stove, my computer and TV and the roof over my head, etc.  Something I am the most grateful for though is the small collection of original art pieces that adorn the walls and tables of my home. I try to be mindful of these and not to take them for granted.


I’ve always loved art and had quite a nice collection started by the time I left Canada. I’ve continued this habit here in Istanbul, amassing a lovely little assortment of items ranging from paintings and ceramics to masks. I collected some of them here in Turkey and others on our trips abroad. Each one of them has a story; each one of them is a story. With attention, we can hear them whisper their secret lives to us. Here is one of their stories now.


In the corridor which joins our kitchen and living room to our bedrooms and study hang two masks mounted on similarly sized frames covered in black fabric. One is an elaborate carnival mask we got in Venice, Italy. It has an enigmatic smile and a multi-colored mosaic of small tiles spilling from its forehead to its left eye, while a bejeweled hand covers the right one. The other is a reproduction of a Pre-Incan jade mask that we picked up in Lima, Peru, with inlaid imitation gold designs across the forehead and cheeks and bronze bangles hanging from the ears and lips. My wife and I were admiring these treasures the other evening when she started sharing the conversations she has with them. She tells them how beautiful they are and how happy she is that they’ve become such close friends there on our wall. She asks them about their lives before we brought them here, who crafted them and what they think of their new environment. She remarks how amazing it is that they both came from coastal cities on opposite sides of the world and isn’t it something that they now share the same wall in a seaside city that connects two continents. She went on and on in like this while the masks stared impassively at us. Who knows what their silent response is to her questions and observations in their secret conversations during the dead of night while we are both asleep in our bed. At any rate, I was deeply impressed hearing how my wife shares my appreciation for these lovely artifacts and is willing to engage with them in conversations which, quite frankly, had never occurred to me to have.

Michael Wray

Hi, My name's Michael. I'm a writer/illustrator working as a primary ESL teacher in Istanbul. I love art, music, literature, and traveling.

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