24 February 2013

Among Ruins

Stumbled across a great blog of abandoned places, modern abandoned places, that are becoming ruins... Check it out: http://blogof.francescomugnai.com/2013/01/30-of-the-most-beautiful-abandoned-places-and-modern-ruins-ive-ever-seen/

After a long trip to Europe in 2001 I came back wondering why ancient ruined things were so affecting.  Then I saw a book about it, Among Ruins I think it was, but I cannot find my copy or reference to in on the internet.  The subject was why ruins appeal to us. 

Maybe I'll find it on one of my shelves sometime, but seeing the pictures this evening reminded me of the Roman Forum, which was for a time buried in dirt and literally a cow meadow (campo di vaca) before being unearthed. 

There are so many ruins in Rome, a thriving city by the way, that it became one of my favorite places.  Modern streets pass under ancient arches.  Medieval buildings perch on Imperial foundations.  I loved it. 

Istanbul has hunks of Constantinople here and there, as well as byzantine churches.  There is a great aqueduct downtown, and hunks of fallen columns alongside the Ordu Caddesi. 

Athens has several great ruins, but largely separate from the modern city.  The medieval Louvre lurks under the modern museum in Paris, which is very cool.  And some of the old roman wall still stands in London. 

Of course, you may remember by trip along Hadrian's Wall last September, which has views like this

But my favorite, so far of course, is Mycenae in the Greek Peloponnese.  Older than anything else I have seen, and terribly moving.

The Trojan War started here, and with it the Iliad and the Odyssey. 

I should be doing my work tonight, but ruins are on my mind.  Not a bad thing, actually.  It's good to see stuff older than me that has survived. 

03 February 2013

My Last Day...

... Before becoming old.  Tomorrow I turn 60.  Many feelings rise up, but most prominently a sense of not having done enough with the years I have lived.  In preparing my sermon this week I stumbled across a blog that had this comment:

“I was feeling depressed because I was in a bookstore filled with literally tens of thousands of books and I was thinking about my own stalled writing career. I was in the China section, reading the back cover of a book about China by a journalist who was at least five years younger than me and it was his SECOND book. In addition, he was the China correspondent for the New Yorker. Did I mention he was five years younger than me?”

And the woman writing it is young enough to be my daughter...

Sense and reason and maturity tell me this is a tempest in my own teapot of a psyche.  By all objective measures I have been a good worker, a decent husband, a respectable father and these alone are sufficient.  But as one of those boomer kids whose parents and teachers told him he had great potential, that felt more like a burden than a liberation.  I got it into myself that something was expected (though I was not quite sure what) and if I did not meet that expectation I was letting everyone down. 

So my resolution, as I start my personal new year as a new born of the elderly, is to find a way forget about potential and expectations altogether.  Yes, that's the ticket.

Anybody have any ideas how?  I could use some...