Upon exiting the hotel doors the smell of coffee mixes with cigarettes; an aroma never thought to be sweet, but somehow here it is. The roads built from pieced together rock, stand with a striking difference beside the modern paved blacktop. A city in between eras.
To the left, a high rising hill atop which sits the remnants of the once dazzling lime and marble structures. Phenomenon destroyed by war and strife. To the right, a modern city highway clustered with motorcycles, buses, and cars; a tram sits snuggly in the center. Beyond that, yet more combat tumbled marble, fascinating structures from a world we make educated guesses about. Guesses based on what the bloodshed has been kind enough to leave behind.
The locals can sometimes be heard calling these archaeological sites “a big piles of rocks.” But don’t listen to that, considering they are all profiting off of said rocks. Imagine the number of souls needed to create these massive monuments and temples. Think of the sheer knowledge it took to know that the columns must be made in parts and bound together with soft lead to withstand the shake of an Earthquake. Fascinating.
Wandering aimlessly amongst the streets that are still based upon the ancient roads, the mind meanders with the feet. Images of the ancient bodies that also roamed these exact stone trails can only bring smiles. Without them, what would exist of Athens? Without their Gods and Goddesses would we have such great artwork or amazing monuments of tribute? Would your feet be wandering in quite the same way?
All questions I suppose we cannot answer. We can simply marvel at the strides we have made, the path we took to get where we are today. As locals, I suppose the awe fades, but I wish it wouldn’t. If we forget the path that has already be taken, how are we able to make a new one? Find the way out of the maze?
History is not something that is meant to stay in the past but instead to flow through our future. As we move on we must forever remember the lessons already learned and grow with them. Rather than living life in a circular manner – 1 step forward, 2 steps back – we forge forward to a better world.
Such a cliché to say, but we must learn from history’s mistakes; but also marvel at it’s many accomplishments. Only by knowing the facts can we learn their rights and wrongs, learn ours. Seeing the damage that has been done can shed light on the reasons to find a way to a cohesive future. Shall the future make guesses about us based on the charred remains of our cities? Does our pride truly outweigh these other lives we are thinking of destroying?
Only by acknowledging what was, and what is, can we change what will be.