Slowly but Surely

Train time again! This time we are moving through the landscape of Italy from our last stop in Riomaggiore to Florence. Italy so far has been absolutely incredible. There is something so unique about the small town Italian way of life that infects you as soon as you enter into a city as special as Riomaggiore. Everything here is slower and more relaxed and even if this means you sometimes have to wait for a late train, it’s clear that the people of Cinque Terre have a deeper understanding of what’s important in life.

Everyone in Riomaggiore takes their time. We walk leisurely through the town (and up some steep stairs) in order to take in the view. Dinners consisting of wonderful company and an abundance of food last into the late hours of the night. This mediated pace allows you more time- time to get to know the people and landscape around you a little better.

Slowness is something new that I’ve grown accustomed to over the last week. My hurt ankle, which I mentioned in my Munich post, has been the cause of me having to change my natural pace. Normally, I’m a pretty fast person; I walk quickly, I talk quickly, and I don’t like to loiter. Taking care of myself this past week has required that I walk (and especially hike) at a pace that is unfamiliar to me. I’ve taken on a role in the back of the group and I’ve seen so many more beautiful things because of it. I appreciate the way the people of Italy go about their days. I have gotten to know the people around me so much better due to our time in Cinque Terre. We spent hours at dinner every night eating course after course and capitalizing on the comforting atmosphere by probing those around us with deep questions. There is so much beauty in this world, but without taking the time to relax and enjoy the view, you will miss those unique moments of beauty that bring you to tears.

During our hike up some very steep and slippery hills in Riomaggiore, I had the opportunity to take in the view. This gorgeous rustic city is even more incredible from above. The sparkling blue sea comes to an abrupt end at the base of the hills and cliffs that the city is quite literally built into. The buildings are all yellow and red, creating a sharp contrast to the bright green vineyards that line the hillside above. As I took in this incredible view from up above, the first thing that popped into my head was my mother’s favorite poem. A joyous prayer, this poem thanks God for the beauty that fills our world and it rang through my head the entire time we were in this gorgeous town.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Edward Cummings

Stars

And on our last night in Riomaggiore, after a day of water adventure and authentic Italian meals, I sat outside our hotel and stared at the stars. I have never seen so many twinkling stars in my life as I did that night. The wonderful breeze, the rumbling of the waves, and of course the incredible spark of joy I felt every single time I saw a new star pop into the sky caused me to tear up. I cried, for the first time on this journey, at the pure beauty and magnanimity of the world around me. The scenery of every place we have been to has been incredible, especially Interlaken and Riomaggiore, but there is something about stars that elicits wonder in me.

I am such a small part of this universe but I have the privilege to view it in all its glory. Nothing could make me more joyful than seeing a small glimpse of our galaxy, nevertheless our universe.

There is a quote, my favorite quote, by Immanuel Kant that completely encompasses my feelings during our time in Riomaggiore.

Two things inspire me to awe: the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.

Immanuel Kant

I am inspired by the people around me. The probing that we have done over the past few weeks has highlighted how different we all are. It’s has been beautiful to see us challenge each other in an attempt to grow from the unique individuals that we have been given on this experience.

I am inspired by the beauty around me. Sometimes, it’s difficult to recognize the intensely awe inspiring world that lies around us. Little things (like the stars) are all it takes to make us take a step back and realize how remarkable our planet can truly be.

I fully plan on being back in Riomaggiore one day. It’s a city with insurmountable beauty that has infected me with an urge to return. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful things that continue to come our way on this experience. Till then!

Toodles!

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