Saturday, June 22, 2013

thoughts on antiquity

It’s funny how quickly you can adapt to your surroundings. I’ve only been in Rome for seven days now (I can’t believe the time is going by so fast) and yet I already find myself walking quickly from place to place without looking around. In America we never look up, I don’t anyways, and here in Rome you miss out on eighty percent of the awesome if you are always looking down. The first few days I was a wide-eyed American, taking it all in and shamelessly gaping at the architecture, the beauty of the sculptures and fountains, and walking slowly. But just as the body adapts to exercise, so to does the mind to visual stimulation. That’s why most people who live in beauty, which is almost everyone if they look hard enough, don’t recognize it for what it is. You’ll hear about greener grass, but I think we just don’t look at our own lawns often enough.

I was talking to my roommate about how awesome these buildings are, and how old. The water systems here are the same as they have been ages ago, and they still work! Every fountain isn’t powered by electricity, just by the ingenuity of the creators of the aqueducts. There are water fountains strewn throughout Rome and each has fresh water that is cycled through the water systems here. It’s awesome. But if you think about America and the things we have surrounded ourselves with it has one thing: new, novelty, different. In America we will tear down the historic old building out of disgust and ignorance. Rather than allowing the old things to be revered and kept alive to remind ourselves of our past, we are constantly tearing them down in order to put something new and fresh in our yards. It’s such a shame. That is not to say that all new things are bad, bur rather that some old things are good too! Can’t we sacrifice some of our modern conveniences for the sake of these historic and old buildings? Perhaps we will figure it out eventually.

A lot of the excitement I get from my travels here in Rome stem from the age of these buildings. When I enter the Pantheon I can only look up and wonder how that huge building was constructed. How the hole in the ceiling was constructed without everything falling apart. Wondering at the sculptors that took the effort to add painstaking detail to every surface of the church I wander into, even areas that are hidden from the view of most people. Marveling at how these buildings were constructed in an age of “lesser” technology. It’s a good reminder of what we are capable of doing that does not rely on fossil fuels, oil, gas, and other devices that have polluted our world.

Is it possible to turn our back on what we have created and live as those before us had lived? Not entirely, I’m not saying to forsake everything about modern medicine or forget the countless different things we have learned about the world and how it works. But is it possible to look at the changes we have made in this world and get rid of the ones that are clearly not beneficial to our earth and ourselves? Even if it means that we have to be inconvenienced, that we have to walk a little farther or work a bit harder? I don’t know if it’s possible. Humanity has gotten lazy, or perhaps it is just us Americans, I’m not sure. But these are the things that I’m thinking about while here in Rome.

I’m looking forward to these next few weeks; let’s see what else Rome has to offer to this wandering musician.

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