Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto. Three towns north of Rome reduced to rubble by an earthquake today. People dead. Lives ruined. And no solution: humans can’t control the whims of the earth.
Disasters like this one always remind me of the frailty of life. None of us know when our time will run out. We must appreciate our lives while we have them.
This earthquake also reminded me that we must appreciate our history while we have it.
Michelangelo’s David stands in a museum in Florence in a similar fault zone to the one that blew today. The museum has plans to install a movable base beneath the statue to help protect him from such a quake, but if a fault slips before they install that base, David could crash to the ground and splinter into a thousand pieces. He survived today, but will he survive tomorrow?
The city of Pisa keeps one weary eye on their famously leaning tower. If the tower falls, it will bring the tourist industry down with it. What would Pisa be without their tower? What would happen to the people, the economy, the history?
Life is fleeing, we all know that. But sometimes I forget that HISTORY is fleeting, too. Like us, it can be erased by time and destruction. It may seem like the pyramids, colosseum, or Mayan ruins will always be there for us to visit, but will they?
We make excuses: I won’t go to Spain this year, it’ll be there next year. Russia seems scary right now, I’ll wait until Putin has stepped off of the political stage. South Africa is too long of a fight, China too smoggy, Rio too dangerous. I’ll wait until next season, next year, next decade… The history will still be there.
Except maybe it won’t.
Today, entire Italian towns were wiped out with a single quake. It’s not only human lives that are temporary and fleeting. It’s everything. So don’t wait. Go now. You–or the world, the art, the culture, the history–might not have a tomorrow.