Monday, July 15, 2013

Seeing Through The Ashes

Cruising into the port of Naples, I was greeted by this early morning sight (above). I have to say it was an incredible vista to absorb while I practiced a few sun salutations and deep hip, hamstring and SI joint poses in preparation for our day trip and hike in Pompeii. Yoga on your balcony is quite a balance challenge!

Here is a brief history reminder of the city of Pompeii: From around 700 B.C. until the morning of August 24, 79 A.D., a little town consisting of about 20,000 residents lay at the foot of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. It was on that day that Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroyed Herculaneum and Pompeii. Preserved under ash, the cities lay buried for just over 1,600 years, their rediscovery provides a breathtaking glimpse into the daily life of the Roman Empire. I remember studying the Mount Vesuvius event in grade school and I was totally wrapped up in this period of history. There wasn’t any way I was going to miss walking through Pompeii, even if I had to pass up the Isle of Capri so I could experience the ruins. 
From port, we hopped on the bus with our tour guide ‘Nando, and began the journey into rediscovered city. ‘Nando (his nick name for Fernando) was a small statured, fit man with a booming Italian voice. It is very possible that he was in his mid 70’s, but looked and moved like someone in the early 50’s, now that’s Mediterranean lifestyle at work.

We arrived at the base of the city and ascended up the Umbrella Pine covered hills toward the walls of Pompeii. We walked down alleys, through courtyards and bath houses...we were walking the same streets and plazas that existed before the birth of Christ, that took a few moments to sink in. I was also taken by surprise by the level of city engineering and planning in Pompeii; storm drains, waste removal and rugged roads to handle the abrasiveness of chariots were all preserved for us to view in amazement.
‘Nando communicated far too many facts of Pompeii for me to ever recount, but there is one statement he made that has crossed my mind every day since that tour. “Looka et where ur feeta stend. Looka et where ur feeta walka.”  How have these words influenced me?
  • When I step on my mat, I hear ‘Nando and the underlying message of connecting with the earth and humanity.
  • When I am off my mat, am I walking with compassion and understanding of others’ ethnic, socioeconomic and religious differences?
  • Will I remember that if I am not present and conscious, any negative patterns or thoughts in the future will take me down the same path of unfortunate outcomes of the past-history repeating itself?
My friend Fernando gave much more than a tour and history lesson of an ancient city. His passion and reverence for his timeless countryside was evident as he meticulously shared it with the tour group. It was his body language and knowing glances that drew me in to the deeper essence of existence that he desired to express.  

Life Shared

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