#14 - Journey to the center of the earth

Disclaimer: This is not about me going into the earth’s core and partying with the dinosaurs like the movie. This wasn’t the geographical center of the earth either. Makes me wonder if a center exists on the surface of a sphere. Anyways back in the good old days when the earth was flat, the ancient Greeks thought that this was the center of the earth.

After visiting Athens, I kept postponing my planned trip to Delphi. I was tired of visiting places just to take pictures of them without any idea about its significance. What I valued more is absorbing the feel of a place, about how the people are and what it is like to live there. So I stayed close to Athens and even met some great locals through meetups. However on my second to last day, I suddenly got the drive to go to Delphi.

Finding the hidden bus terminal, I set off on my 2.5-hour ride. On most of my trips, I tended to oscillate between wonder and apathy. I would marvel at my surroundings and the fact that I was there and then feel bad that I was there by myself and had no one to share the experience with. This would then spiral into my difficulties of finding deep connection and my never ending search for romance.

So a few months ago I started journaling. I wrote and inspected any negative thought I had. I discovered that writing takes the thought out of your head and stops you from endlessly thinking about it. Slowly I got better at catching myself entering a negative spiral. A negative thought would flow into my mind and I would just let it be without adding more fuel to it.

On my other trips, I was on a mission to cross off as many places on the tourist map as I can. With no one else to slow me down, I would cover a large portion of the city in a day. But eventually I would get fed up and tired of the shallow sightseeing. This time I took my time. I saw less places this way but I was able to absorb and enjoy the places that I did visit much more.

Perhaps due to those reasons, I was surprisingly upbeat throughout my entire trip to Greece. The fact that I was alone didn’t bother me anymore. I was content with being on my own and the occasional chat I had with the people I met. I kept journaling too. On the long bus and ferry rides or at random places at the sights I visited, I would sit and write for a while. In Delphi for instance, I found an amazing viewpoint overlooking the ruins of the theater so I sat and wrote while the crowd kept moving behind me.

Looking over the delphi complex

According to legend, Zeus released two eagles from the east and the west to find the “navel of the world”. These eagles met at Delphi. It then became the sanctuary of Apollo, the Olympian god of light, knowledge and harmony. The ancient kings believed that sending gifts to the sanctuary would win the favor of the god and a lot of those artifacts were recovered and on display in the museum. All that is left of the once great complex were the ruins of multiple buildings. Notably the treasury, theater, stadium and the temple.

What made Delphi amazing for me was the scenery. The mountains made you feel like an ant compared to their epic size. The views were breathtaking. The founder of my high school was inspired by Greek history. He named our school “Lyceum” and I recognized our school’s emblem when I saw the ancient treasury.

Having seen the reconstructions of the complex, it was fascinating to look at the ruins and imagine it at its prime. This is all that is left of a once great civilization. Maybe our modern cities would look like this someday, where tourists would visit and take selfies or whatever the 40th century equivalent of that is. They would try to imagine what life in the past would have been like, the very life that we are living today. This made me think of the sheer volume of data we produce. What will come of it? Modern day archeologists excavate to recover physical artifacts. Archeologists in the future would inspect ancient hard drives. We have much better ways of recording our lives now so it is certain that future generations would know more about us than we know about our ancestors. But for us today, we can let our imagination run free, to imagine an even greater past through the fragments that have been left behind at places like Delphi.

Story from 20 Oct 2018, Published 27 Oct 2018

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