This morning I paused and looked at photos from our gala Italian wedding trip last June. Most of you may recall reading about that here on the blog recently, one year later, but better late than never, right?
The photos Barry took of Pompeii brought back memories of so many things. Mostly, that I had just recovered from being sick with digestive woes for the first three days in beautiful Italy.
I tiptoed around Pompeii more scared of getting sick again than Mount Vesuvius erupting.
The city of Pompeii is famous after being destroyed in 79 CE when Mount Vesuvius erupted covering it in at least 19 feet of ash and debris. This quick burial successfully preserved it for centuries before the ruins were discovered in the late 16th century.
Between 15-20,000 people lived in ancient Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum and most of them survived. Two thousand people died that fateful day.
The volcano is still very active, but it has not erupted since 1944. I read before we visited that scientists think Vesuvius is one of the most dangerous in the world. Experts believe that a catastrophic eruption is due any day, which would be an untold tragedy because three million people live within twenty miles of the volcano’s crater.
Add in some of the 2.5 million tourists like us who visit every year. It could be a tragedy to surpass COVID statistics so far.
The above photo captures some of the horror of that day when so many lost their lives. After Vesuvius erupted, the fallen bodies were encased in layers of hardened pumice and ash. The decayed corpses left voids, and in 1863 archeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli and his team produced plaster casts.
A quiet hush passed through the crowd of tourists as we filed by the buildings containing the casts. Recent CT scans of the plaster casts have revealed a wealth of information about the people living in ancient Pompeii. Many of the city dwellers died from severe head injuries as they tried to run from collapsing roofs and buildings.
One of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world today… I remember reading an article in May, 2019, that Vesuvius could erupt ANY DAY now.
Should we visit? I wondered. Or stay as far away as possible?
I am thinking of danger now, and how we assess our risks. In these COVID days, many of us are weighing risks and costs daily. Should we eat out in indoor restaurants? Should we wear our masks outdoors when surrounded by other outdoor people? Should we stay home or visit family? Should we have dinner with friends in a socially distanced way?
Everyone listens to his or her own internal beliefs and nervous systems and makes different decisions. Sometimes our decisions prove correct. Other times costly.
We can only assess, and assess again. My risk-taking or risk-avoiding may not be yours. I will probably never choose to go skydiving. You may never choose to visit Pompeii.
I want to live somewhere in the vicinity of caution and respect–but not fear.
Sometimes that’s a razor-sharp line that we can find ourselves crossing over. We cross over into fear and need to find our way back to calm and peace. Or we cross over into indifference and apathy and work our way back to respect and caution.
And still–Life holds all the cards–and we never really know what will happen, do we?
The look on my face in the above picture just about wraps it up. I am looking at Barry taking photos and saying, “It is soooo hard to be here when you’ve been this sick.”
But the next picture captures another mood. How quickly it can change, right? Now I am delighted to be with friends and family, finally feeling better, heading toward Positano and the wedding of our precious daughter…
Mount Vesuvius did not erupt. Danger nodded at us, and let us pass.
May danger let all you pass, as well.