3 min read

time does not stand still

yesterday i got a bit emotional. shortly after arriving in Rome, i went walking in Trastevere, where i had lived four years ago. the walk was nostalgic - every street corner and every building reminded me of studying abroad in Rome, especially the times i had with the friends i made.

Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere

overall i’d say i got upset that the past is the past. it was such a wonderful experience to study in rome and spend the time with the people i did, and i couldn't believe it was over. not only was it over, it had been over for four years. i've been out of college for over four years. time flies. and i felt like i had to reckon for that, time passing. i felt like i had to have something to show for it, or at least arguably have a present as wondrous.

i know a lot of this is perspective, and that yesterday i was suffering from a lack of gratitude. my therapist would probably subtly push me to be happy the past happened, accept that it’s over, and recognize my present is something else entirely, not to be compared.

i do take that stance, actually. i'm grateful i got this experience studying abroad that not everyone gets. i accept the experience is in the past, i’m very happy to have the memories to look back on.

and i do recognize my present is something else entirely. the last four years have been absolutely crazy too, so much has happened. i know i’ll look back, one day, and my current present too will become the good old days.

i like that wording a lot, actually. the past is the good old days, the present will also one day be the good old days, and the future are simply good old days yet to come. this wording captures what i want to embody - unconditional positive regard towards the past, present and future.

Yeah, the past was honestly the best
But my best is what comes next
- BTS, Yet to Come
Yet to Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)

i find it funny i'm having these thoughts about time in Rome, because of course of all cities Rome is a city with a past. i'm barely a speck of dust on Rome's timeline.

i have this visual of rome in my head, where the people are like a river flowing through the streets, while the buildings are boulders that stay the same despite the water rushing past.

obviously the ancient and famous buildings continue to exist, like the Pantheon, the Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica. but also my favorite haunts from four years ago (creepily imo) are still there, mostly the same. Freni e Frezioni near the Tiber, Mordi e Vai at Testaccio Market, the supermarket i used to go to. the people are fleeting, the buildings and institutions less so.

i find it absolutely shocking that time does not stand still. i've added four years, yet the physical bits of the city i’m surrounded by feel like they've added none. it makes me feel mortal and small.

i felt mortal and small again today when i stumbled on a beautiful but somber graveyard in Ostiense, home to the bodies of 422 casualties from WW2. the soldiers buried here died eighty years ago, yet here i am among their graves. i linger for ten, twenty minutes, but i leave, and they remain.

my mind tries to make sense of all this, it wants to process the flow of time and turn it into actionable takeaways, but it can't.

time is out of our control. imo the only appropriate response is to feel awe, out of respect for that which transcends us.