onsdag 17 augusti 2016

Moments in time - shared in the present

There is something really appealing in old buildings, ruins and rocks. Wherever I go, my hands keep following the rough surface of ancient life. The cut edges, the broken fences, the carved pillars, tresholds all torn down by centuries of footsteps. It doesn't really matter if it's the remains of an old temple or just a farmers cottage. The treat of it lies in the voices echoing inside. At least in my imagination.  Buildings of all kind once contained life, voices, tears and laughter, praying, singing or perhaps chanting.  Loners or large families, farmers or knights, spectators or invaders.  All within the walls, within the fences the hopes and dreams, the fighting and the blessings. The starvation and the days of plenty. 

I have written in my other blog about houses on the countryside, abandoned when progress pushed on . This post is about the tales and emotions of ancient Greece. So much more absent in time and still so vivid in mind when you are walking right through it, lingering, stroking, breething and experiencing decades of life for a second. 

This was 1992. We went on our first trip abroad, just the two of us. We planned to be engaged, the rings where safely stored in a little grey box .  Simple rings, nothing fancy. We had been saving up for the trip, plenty of tours, plenty of sights we planned to cover. We had a faint idea of where to make this happend, the golden bond.  We had read about  Epidauros, the ancient town by the eastcoast, once a lively centre. There would be the theatre, no amphi but one of those halfcircle theatres. Epidauros holds the sanctuary of Asclepius. There was a cult in the area around the 6th century BC and centuries on. The theatre was situated close by.

There are more than 30 rows in here.  No comfortable chairs though for the long spectacles.

In the evening we arrived at the hotel, close to the harbour. There was a thunderstorm of the kind you can experience in the tropics. Before dinner, the rain stopped and we slipped down to the harbour, rings in pocket.  With the crickets chirping away and the sun setting, we exchanged rings. Our guide found out and raced into the kitchen, commanding the staff to present us with a bottle of champagne. On the double!!! He had that kind of appearence, nobody would say no and survive. Champagne it was.

Next day we stood there, awstruck in the centre of this pile of rocks, this grey and uncomfortable place. It's still in use. But the mind can't really get a grip of the decades that has passed and the efforts it took to create this pile of rocks.  Actually, this particular theatre
is worldandtimewide known for its accoustics. Breaking out of the almost tangible atmosphere we started to mount the stairs. It was a hot day after that thunder, the stairs where steep. At the same time, it felt like we ought to step very carefully, not destroying or disturbing something important. Delicate and rough at the same time.

We had learned that a voice would carry easily from the performer on the stage and up to the spectators at the top. So there we stood, viewing the valley below , the heat in our faces and spotting that small figure down there. She began to speak to us as if we were standing next to her. Every single word echoed clearly through the hot air and up to where we stood.
How is that possible? Many architects have tried to solve the mystery. Once, in the 20th century, a famous architect betted he could build a perfect copy at home, with the same accoustic qualities. He meassured and crawled, making calculations for weeks. But when it finally stood there in place, the accoustic was not there.  So great was his despair that he couldn't live with it.  That's the impact of history alive. You must treat it with respect.

And this is what happends when we step carefully in the landscape of times lost and forgotten, we pick up small pieces and glimpses of life once lived, moments of importance, thoughts and dreams being shared, dramatic events taking place beneath the cloudless sky of ancient Greece or anywhere, why not Ireland with its mystery cultsites.
 I don't believe in the forefathers spirits but we are created to bear forth our inner and outer efforts, making traces for generations to follow. Moments in time for us was lifetimes for someone else. We see but glimpses of entire lifespans and can only guess the conversations and actions taking place between people that once occupied this region and believed that to be the only life possible .
The known world. The known culture. The known ways of life. The once brand new theatre
and the daily activities in the town and out here by the sanctuary. It all falls upon us in a split second, moments of time becomes one with the present. It's hard to leave, my hand keep touching the stone.  But we know that our next stop is Delphi, and I know it will be an even greater impact on our minds.  The meeting with the ancient Delphi above the valleys of red earth is another story altogether.

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