This morning i set out for my run with no expectations, besides the fact that I was going to run far and run somewhere new. This is the great thing about living in a foreign city, especially one so rich with history and architecture. Just when I think I’ve gotten to know Florence pretty darn well, a beautiful new building pops out, a stunning fountain catches my eye, or a new garden or simply a tree sends me into bewilderment.
So, I ran and I ran and I ran. I had no idea where I was going, I just kept heading farther out and turning down any street that caught my eye. I ended up in the outskirts of the city, in a really pretty Piazza called Piazza della Liberta. I didn’t have my camera but here’s where I ended up.
Now, this piazza isn’t completely out of the ordinary since it shares many characteristics that I’ve gotten used to in Florence. It’s simple, but it’s not. (deep statement, eh?) What I mean to say is that every sight that’s new to our eyes is extravagant because we know nothing about it. Never before have I seen a building like this or a fountain like that – it’s unique to itself. And I’ll never see something like that again because no two things are EVER the same. That’s what fascinates me everyday when I catch a glimpse of something new that I’ve simply glazed over the 40 other times I’ve walked past it.
There’s also that intrigue of the unknown. What has happened here? How many people have stopped in their tracks and enjoyed this piazza? How many people have come here in the storms of their lives and had revelations? Is this someone’s favorite place? How many couples have fought in this vicinity, how many children have giggled and screamed and rolled around in the grass? And the history. What triumphs and devastations have taken place here, if any? Has it been a simple, beautiful piazza standing calm through history, or has it been a center of chaos? You just never know. I wonder about these things EVERYWHERE I go. Even if it’s a little park that I pass by everyday on the way to class in Santa Barbara. Every places holds so many memories on every end of the spectrum and you’ll never know what they are… but again, that’s the beauty of it.
It turns out that this place is the northernmost point of the historic center of Florence and holds the triumphal arch of Florence, which was erected in 1738 to celebrate the arrival of the Lorena Dynasty. In winter there’s an ice rink here. in 1865 it was damaged during the crushing of city walls.
Can you imagine how it felt for the first explorers of the world? What an adventure it must have been to set sail to TRULY explore the unknown – with absolutely preconceived notion of their destination from internet pictures or word of mouth. Everything they saw was something they had never even been able to picture before. I would love to do that.
Living a life of routine truly scares me and has always been one of my worst fears. There’s nothing new that can be derived, learned, or inspiring from the same old sights, the same old route, or the same old routine.This is why being here in Europe has been so uplifting for my soul. It’s been refreshing.
Humans really are divine creatures. We were set on this Earth by God to do great things – to achieve, to explore, to love endlessly. Think about your hometown or your state. Now think about it in terms of the entire country. Now, in terms of the entire continent. In terms of the whole world? It’s so small and our lives should not be that small as well. We’re meant to marvel at the wonders of the world, to savor the abundance of foods from every culture. To learn the endearing stories of strangers, to take long drives and soak up the landscapes. We were meant to challenge our brains and to feel both hopeless and amazed in the midst of a language we know nothing about. We have, on average, 78 years on this beautiful planet that is spinning in orbit nonstop and producing new wonders everyday. Approximately 78 years (or more) on this world that is so incredibly diverse and rich in culture. Though we’ve advanced a lot, the world still holds an unimaginable amount of mysteries and things left untouched. No place is the same. And to spend a life not exploring every new thing you possibly can, is (in my opinion) the absolute worst thing you could do to yourself.
Yes, unfortunately, in today’s world we have to work a lot to maintain a living. That isn’t the point though, and that isn’t an excuse. Personally, I’d much rather have a very simple and frugal life and spend it traveling and exploring and creating memories with my loved ones. That’s what makes you truly rich. And when you can’t afford to travel, or to save up, and there’s no possible way.. a life of exploration is still there. Take a new way to work. Walk, instead of drive. Leave the phone at home and give yourself an extra 30 minutes to your commute. Turn off the music. Stop at a pretty place that you always ignore and simply sit and ponder. Go to a cultural festival that you never would have pictured yourself at. Strike up a conversation with that random person at the coffee shop and share stories. Take an excursion into the wilderness with no electronics and appreciate the sounds and the sensations. Break away from your typical date night or night out with friends and be spontaneous. Try the weirdest thing on the menu. Go on a date with yourself and enjoy the solitude. Put down the GPS or map and get lost.
The world is both your classroom and your playground. Embrace it and take advantage of it. You’ll learn more about yourself and your surroundings than you ever expected. You’ll find yourself more open and liberated. And this, I’m learning, is what life is all about.