I stand inside an ancient cathedral with beautiful architecture and stunning frescos, or in a museum staring at a great and famous work of art known around the world; but I am unaffected. More often than not on this trip so far I have felt relatively apathetic about most of the art and architecture we have seen. There have been a few things that have stood out to me and which I have very much enjoyed or felt changed by, but 80 percent of what we have seen has not stunned me. However, I am realizing that this is okay; that everything does not have to have a great impact on me, that I can go through the trip slowly and subtly affected by things and still come out a better person. And rather than trying to fabricate a certain type of experience or trying to be affected by things that I feel like I should be affected by, allowing Europe and all that is offers touch me when and how it wants to.
I remember being in Carcassonne, a very old, very beautiful fortified city which I felt no connection to whatsoever. I remember our walk into the city and the large field of poppies we passed; hundreds of thousands of brilliantly red poppies. It was at this moment that I understood why great artists painted; I understood why they were inspired. I am writing this blog on the bus. Looking out the window every few words to keep from getting motion sickness. As I look out at the Italian countryside; the mountains, the fields of grapes, olive trees, the magnolia, the tall regal cypress` and the red poppies colouring the otherwise green landscape, I understand again where so many great painters got their inspiration. I understand why van Gogh painted so many cypresses and why Gaudi was so inspired by nature and used it to create such unique architecture. This small and simple realization is of greater value to me than standing in front of a great basilica or in front of the Roman forum thinking: this used to be the centre of the world. I am looking forward to many more simple realizations or experiences which in turn bring so much joy.