an existential crisis in florence, italy

i arrived in florence the next afternoon amid a contemplative daze.  so many questions about my past and my future had been raised, and it was too easy to take the bait and wander down tangents of useless what-ifs and might-haves.  i wanted to sit down, focus, lock myself in a room somewhere and hash everything out like it was some kind of math problem, but i was old enough to know now that this was not how it works.  there was no quadratic equation to one’s problems or happiness.  there was only awareness and progress, and every life, no matter how short or long, was just a process of evolution or devolution.  i needed to focus on the present and keep moving.  besides, i had exited the train and wandered directionless while my thoughts had run free in an oblivious daydream.  now i had no idea where i was.

i was indeed in florence, one of the artistic and cultural icons of the world, home to the powerful medici family (so powerful they were able to get two of their family members to be elected pope), birthplace of the italian rennaissance, and home of such historic titans like machiavelli, the poet dante, galileo, michaelangelo, raphael, donatello, leonardo da vinci, and master splinter (ninja turtle joke ftw!!!!). as soon as i was paying attention again, it didn’t take long for the ghosts of greatness to begin lingering in every shadow and corner of this magnificent city. Continue reading an existential crisis in florence, italy

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solitude and self-discovery in venice, italy

i arrived in venice rejuvenated.  the peace and solitude of nice in the winter time had been exactly what i needed, and now i entered italy with a vigor and excitement.  but i also spent a lot of time reflecting in the french riviera, and i was now even more aware of the effects the journey was having on me.  i was more in tune with my reactions and emotions, and rather than shy away from the “why” of things, i was now embracing and dissecting it all.  i was more open to experiences and people, and less intent on “conquering” locations and checking off list items, and more content to patiently absorb.  i was indeed slowing down, but it wasn’t a bad thing.

i collected my pack at baggage claim and took a bus across the bridge and into venice.  a thick, damp fog had descended from the dolomite mountains down to the floating city, limiting my visibility and relegating me to watching the raindrops collect and race each other from one side of my bus window to the other.  when the bus pulled in, new instincts kicked in as i oriented myself directionally and then crossed east over a bridge and into the heart of venice.

people attempt to stay dry in venice by walking on short installed platforms that reach just above the flood’s reach

i was confused and startled as i crossed the bridge.  the wet haze from the fog was beginning to clear and separate, revealing a strange, snaking system of Continue reading solitude and self-discovery in venice, italy

seeking refuge in nice, france.

my plane landed in marseilles and i quickly found the train station and boarded the train to nice.  i was still a little on edge from the morning’s events in tangiers, morocco, so i didn’t really enjoy the train ride or its scenery, unfortunately.  but it was only a matter of time before the delicate side to side rock and roll of the train lulled me into a fast asleep.  i awoke only minutes before the train pulled into the station.

i exited and hoped it wouldn’t be too long before my friends had found me.  i was tired of being on edge and i was tired of not being able to trust people.  the morocco medinas had worn me out.  i stepped out into the terminal and walked a few feet.  i didn’t see my friends, but something else had momentarily captured my attention.  nothing.  people rushed around me, hurriedly trying to catch another train or grab a cab, music played softly overhead, and people navigated on autopilot while interacting with their cellphones.  but no one cared that i was there. i may as well have been a garbage can, merely an obstacle to avoid, an object to tolerate but pay no mind to.  no one was trying to sell me anything, no one in my face demanding that i purchase some item that i likely had no use for, no opportunistic agents persuading me to follow them down some darkened alley to a “hotel” i had no desire to stay at.  i was completely anonymous, and not a single soul around me gave one ounce of a damn about me. i breathed a sigh of relief.  i’d never been so happy to be among the french.

a few minutes later Continue reading seeking refuge in nice, france.