While I was in Florence, Italy, I climbed 414 steps to the top of Giotto’s bell tower. It is part of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. The view was incredible, to say the least. The next day I also climbed the (higher) Cathedral dome designed by Brunelleschi, which is situated next to the bell tower. The dome is the highest point in the city, but I think I liked climbing the bell tower more because I had a view of the dome itself. For some time, I took in the view of the city and of the dome. It really was breathtaking.
On occasion in these moments I find myself inspired, thinking about some of the deep things in life. I find my mind going in so many directions, for better or worse. I say ‘for better or worse’ because, in some ways, thinking so much can prevent me from living entirely in the moment. This was one of those times. I started to think of the nature of the moments of our lives, the locations in which we find ourselves, and how these two interact to form our experiences.
I think it’s important to admit that our thoughts in a particular place, wherever that place may be, are part of that moment. They may be reverent, irrelevant, or otherwise. Maybe these thoughts are good, such as a happy memory of a loved one in a place you once shared a happy time. Maybe something bad comes to mind, such as a sense of hurt or loss that was prompted by something that happened in the place you find yourself at the moment. There is also the possibility of a combination of the two, such as a happy memory of a loved one who is no longer living. The thinking depends on the quality of the thoughts, the nature of the thoughts themselves, and the location in which these thoughts are had.
I could dwell on the fact that, rather than truly enjoying the moment and taking in the beautiful view, I was stuck in such complex pseudo-philosophical thinking. However, rather than feeling a sense of regret at the loss of a moment spent in such contemplation, I don’t want to see it that way. All of our thoughts and experiences combine to make us who we are. The thoughts we have in a certain place at a certain time shape our experience of that place in that moment. These experiences, in turn, shape our lives.
Maybe some of this is very relevant to you or resonates with you. Or maybe this is all just an example of me thinking too hard about thought and the nature of life. If so, cut me some slack. I was at an elevation of about 82 meters (about 269 feet) after climbing 414 steps.