Veni, Vidi, Vici – I came, I saw, I conquered…(kinda)
Italy…where do I even begin. It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed by a city like Rome, full of so much history, culture, and religion. Countless landmarks such as the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and of course, the Colosseum are within walking distance from the city center, which when coupled with the heat made for quite a tired body by the end of the day. However, Rome did teach me a lot of things – about history and about myself. But, perhaps the greatest lesson I learned was one about simplicity and happiness.
So, my brief trip to Rome kind of started off on the wrong foot. Unfortunately, my phone (containing screenshots of bus/train schedules to the city center and walking directions from the city center to the place I was staying at) died during takeoff out of Philadelphia Airport. This led to mindless wandering throughout Fiumicino’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport upon arrival as well as hours of roaming through the city streets hoping I would just stumble upon my living quarters. I finally settled in, thinking that maybe my luck would turn around. Two declined credit cards and an improper reservation booking later, I realized that today was just not my day. I was exhausted from managing only about an hour or two of sleep on the overnight flight into the city, and struggled to eat regularly as all the walking left my throat parched and my stomach empty.
I traveled down Via Cavour with my eyes (and mind) set on the iconic Colosseum. An amphitheater dating back to the earliest Roman times, playing host to the infamous gladiator games, I had always dreamt of one day witnessing in person this architecturally-astounding landmark that has miraculously survived the test of time. I circled around the Colosseum several times, searching for the best vantage point and backdrop for my shot, but becoming more and more discouraged by what I found. Spots with too many tourists, others where I was constantly bombarded by illegal salesmen pawning off hats, selfie sticks, and other miscellaneous souvenirs, I was almost ready to give up.
I was disappointed in myself. I had let the complexity of an idea and the trials and tribulations that followed as a result of it govern my mood and more so, my experience. But as I sat on the side of the road, sulking and feeling overwhelmed, something amazing happened. I heard a couple little kids yelling and picked up my head to find two young boys engaged in a heated, yet innocent game of soccer. The best part about it? They were kicking around an empty water bottle. I was overcome with a feeling of contentment and joy, seeing how an inanimate object not even remotely close to resembling the form of a soccer ball could bring these two kids such happiness. I vowed to take this experience as a lesson and to change my mood for the rest of the trip. Those two boys taught me something I never thought I would learn about the simplicity of happiness. When it comes down to it, it’s really not about having the most, but rather, making the most of what you have. I learned that there’s simplicity in happiness, but also happiness in simplicity; it’s about being content with what you have no matter how much or how little that might be. Sometimes all it takes is a water bottle and a friend to turn a day around…and how blessed was I to experience this firsthand, in a time when I needed it most.