Wandering the Classical World

I’m back from my trip to Greece, but my heart remains in the space between the blue sky and the blue-on-blue sea, in the waters that birthed Poseidon, the mountains that hosted Zeus. Wherever you dig, the Greeks say, you uncover another glimpse of the ancient world.The soil coughs up ramparts and pottery, imparting truth and mystery in equal measure.

I walked the streets of Athens, immersed in the bustle of city life. I sampled the cuisine at a street-side restaurant and contemplated the adventures waiting for me. The following day, with great care for the slippery rocks that underpin it, I climbed to the top of the Acropolis, then spent time in the Museum there, marveling at the old city hidden beneath the new. Next year, the uncovered ruins will become part of the museum experience when visitors can tour the city underground.

Each day brought a new adventure. One day, with fellow travelers, I clapped the perfect acoustics of the Theater of Epidaurus and inhaled the pine-scented air of the healing center of Aesclepius. Another morning I passed through the lion gate  at Mycenae, stared into the tombs Schliemann found. On the island of Hydra, I marveled at the displays of patriots’ swords, models of ships, and pictures of the heroes who fought for Greece. Each moment carried portent, an awareness of history riding my shoulders.

In the harbor of Poros, a school of fish came by, jumping in the morning sun as the five-minute ferry rumbled closer and I, enchanted by the sparkle of waves that watched the birth of so many wonders, welcomed the birth of new ones in my own creative space. I thought to discover poems in the patterns of sea and sky. Instead, I discovered stories, dug up from the soil of past and present conversation.

Perhaps, in the virtual landscape of our own writing lives, we carry personal history like seeds that flourish only with time. All those humming voices of characters, those dream-like settings and half-voiced themes need time to rise. Like the beehive tomb of Atreus, perspective is everything. We build not knowing who will wander through our landscapes but certain that, for us, the journey is everything.

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