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Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Two representations of wealth in a time we would look back at as poverty. Two representations of grandeur in two different settings. One high atop a hill in a prestigious city, a challenge against the Parisians. The other small, where the priest was probably the only one in the town who knew how to read. Where everyone came together to build something special for them. In their hearts and with their hands, more precious than even St. Peter’s or Avignon because of the sacrifice it took.

And I ask you, which of these is greater?

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A channel runs between two countries, forever separating them with icy cold water. People have gone to great lengths to make their way across, whether it be for war or leisure. Now, a journey taking hours or days, takes but a few minutes as two countries worked together to make a tunnel through the earth, under the water, and bringing us just a little bit closer to each other.

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Anne Boleyn. The name stirs up some kind of meaning in all of us. From thoughts of a deceitful witch scamming on her husband to ideas of her somewhat twisted nature and beguiling abilities.

But not with me.

I’ve always had a soft spot for people or issues I feel are misunderstood. It was easy, hundreds of years ago, to instill panic in people by making claims of harborings with the devil or witchcraft. Many innocents were lost this way. But I think there’s something more to Anne Boleyn than a pretty little girl who stamped her feet when she didn’t get her way and ensnared a king.

I think Anne, and this is through my limited study, was an ambitious sort, but she was much more than what others expected. Educated and intriguing to those around her, I could definitely see someone like a great King being intrigued and entranced by her ways. So many girls probably acting nervous and coy or overtly throwing themselves at you, but here was a sophisticated and stylish woman who always kept him at arm’s length. For a selfish boy who had grown up never knowing what it felt like to be told no, it must have been maddening to want the one thing that he couldn’t seem to get.

And for Anne, getting the power and favor of a King must have been shocking for her. But to become a wife instead of a mistress, poor Anne lost everything. No longer was she a mystery or a challenge to the King, instead she was a conquest that he had achieved and grew tired of. I could see her getting desperate to regain his affections, especially after investing so much on her own skills and then the deaths of her children.

I would not presume to say that I knew Anne loved him, or anything else for that matter, but when walking around and hearing the Yeoman Wanderers and reading the signs about her, they paint her in a light of disgust. They describe her last speech and lighthearted attitude of going to her death as though she was consorting with darkness. History is painted by the victors, and those out of favor are forever to be remembered in such a way.

If Anne was truly as evil and manipulative as they say, why would her spirit be so uneasy with tales of ghostly apparitions held onto the places where she last remained? I wondered about her walking those same stone steps and looking out of the windows as we wandered around the towers and paths at the Tower, but never had I thought of her with such compassion.

Because at the end of the day, Anne was a woman. Left alone. And sentenced to a horrible fate. How would we have acted in her place?

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A palace covered in gold, as shiny as the sun the king aligned himself with. Versailles, the seat of the monarchy of France. The stomping grounds of the Three Musketeers, Louis Catorce, Charles V, Joan of Arc, and countless other Dumas stories including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in the Iron Mask, and 20 Years Later.

The opulence was a smack in the pope’s face as the sheer wealth and abundance exemplified throughout the massive grounds competed with Avignon itself. Countless paintings of the royal family as gods among the clouds or huge lifesize representations to forever encapsulate the family within their glorious home. Countless hallways and rooms housed hundreds of servants and people essential to the function of the government. Now these rooms have been turned into alcoves housing pieces of a people lost to time.

The hall of mirrors was a ballroom, dining room, and a place for state meetings is still in use today. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in this room. The echoes of the hundreds of people milling about the art, statues, and light almost drown out the memory of parties, music, and dancing. Napoleon and Marie Antoinette walked these excessive halls and extravagant gardens. Countless other historical figures have wandered these halls in anticipation for the next political move.

The grounds are flawless, kept up by groundsmen looking to mirror the sanctity and grace of their forebearers. Plants grown and doctored like children beneath their careful hands. Each stone meticulously inspected and cleaned. Every day appearing as though new, wondered upon by some dignitary or another for the first time. In this moment, everyone is royalty. I wander about the time, the money, the people that went into this place. The battles that rang out as the musketeers were called to arms. The guillotines rolled into the square bringing hundreds to their death. And while all this is happening, a king lives in opulence and grandeur, a gilded cage to keep him and his countless children safe from the hordes of rabble just beyond the door. And it makes me wonder, who was the real prisoner in those days.

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Fresh

Stalls line the streets. Children are running between the people and screaming. A man hands a block of cheese to a woman who holds it to her face and inhales the sweet aroma. Fresh fruits and vegetables fill crates and alight the streets with color and fragrance. People haggle and shout. Eating straight off the vine and out of the hands. Families behind the counters pass out samples or reload near empty barrels with fresh supplies from the earth they picked and cared for all these seeds from. Seeds grown and brought to life, to growth, and to change. Food for the people are symbols of a life near completion, seeking to spread the seeds and grow life around. Seeds sent forth to grow into the world by providing nutrients to those around us.

The trees, the plants, the mothers of the earth.

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A library filled with books, some older than the United States. The smell of old leather and musty paper fills your nose like an intoxicating aroma. In this room lies thoughts about humanity, what is life, what are feelings, why do we have relationships, what sorts of relationships are worthy of fighting for. All of the questions of our existence and the beyond lie within these walls, between these tomes, between the beginning and the end. Our thoughts written down to be shared with others as though screaming out to the world that we aren’t alone. We all strive, we all dream. What is it to be a human and what makes us different than the animals? What makes us the same?

Between these walls lie the questions and answers of the ages, marking a people, a society, a world. And it makes me think how little we have learned from our forefathers, how much we have in common with one another, and what really is important in life. Is it prosperity and the accumulation of wealth? Is it the moments of happiness, joy, tragedy, and peace that fill our lives? Is it the families and the values we build with one another?

Two dates and a name are all that will be left behind when you’ve gone, and the only thing that matters is the dash between them.

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Scale

Geneva lies in the shadow of the tallest mountain in Europe, Mt. Blanc. The White Mountain is over 15,000 feet high, is always covered in snow, and the lookout of the Alps. Mountains loom in the distance, surrounding Switzerland like a wall of protection. Stuffing their heads deep into the sand and ignoring the rest of the world as they lie protected in their cocoon of neutrality.

Driving along the bottom edge, clouds cover lips and folds in the mountains and slides out like the breath of a dragon hovering over the entrance to the cave.

Along the edge of Mt. Blanc is a huge glacier, slowly descending down the mountain. Geology, history, and mystery lies in the folds of the snowy ice making its way toward the city below. Looking up into the perfect blue and white crystal, you realize how old the earth is and how much you’ve missed out on. The life process of this glacier is slow, barely a whisper as it descends down the side of the mountain, a human life is but a blink in the eye as it moves on, tearing earth and rock along its way.

Mt. Blanc is the barrier of three countries: France, Switzerland, and Italy. A 20 mile long tunnel runs under the mountain and links them all together. Instead of going over or alongside it, Europeans go through the earth to create waterways and paths.

The land is marred with human creations that have survived hundreds of years. These bridges hover above the trees as symbols of life and prosperity, marking land and domination of the earth around them. No one would think to tear these creations down. Nor would they build something that wasn’t meant to last through the ages. As you walk, drive, ride down the roads you can practically feel the age of the earth as horses or water made its way down the aqueducts to the people below. The countless hundreds or thousands that walked these same paths in a day long past, in a life long gone, in a world that is but a memory where values were different and hopes were for life and togetherness, an acceptance of who we are and our place in society.

Back in Geneva, the fountain shoots 300 meters into the sky, a symbol of new life, new creation, and a new world where science and a longing for something beyond ourselves is sought.

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