This morning we learned about ISIS destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra Syria, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back nearly 2,000 years to the first century AD.
As I read through the specifics of the attack, I was consumed with anger and disgust at such a despicable display of humanity and then I felt an overwhelming sadness. Sadness for those who lost their lives. Sadness for the mindless acts of terror that destroyed historic ruins. And sadness for all those who call themselves world travelers.
My mind wandered to the blogs and Instagram accounts I follow, as well as the common themes weaved into those entries: self discovery, freedom, adventure, enlightenment and the ability to see.do.conquer. I couldn’t help but wonder how much longer we’ll have the ability to backpack or tour all corners of the world without seriously sacrificing personal safety or, something that needs to be equally considered, how much longer these wonders of the world will even exist due to natural disasters, human pollution, continued vandalism or global terrorism.
A memory of Venice creeps into my thoughts today, a floating city with ancient origins that is certainly in danger of geographic extinction.
“The flow of rivers and canals mingles with the wash of the sea, with the slow movement of the Adriatic tides, checked by peninsulas and sandbanks. The barene, those stretches that are now submerged, now emerging, sometimes appear to twinkle on the horizon below their fringes of weeds. The mysterious play of the currents, in a slow process of undermining, eroding, and filling, shifts the deepest basins and brimming lands, providential pastures for crab, shrimp, shellfish, octupus, squid, gulls, snipe, herons, wild ducks, shoveler ducks–all the incorrigible hunters and fishers. And I thought this was an inanimate realm,” said Frédéric Vitoux in Venice: The Art of Living.
Will cities such as Venice, Hamburg and Amsterdam become the new tales of Atlantis with their art, architecture and history submerged like the Titanic?
For those of you evaluating the pros and cons of traveling or studying abroad, do it now while you have the chance. Save up your funds, map out your adventures and do it. Face your fears, stop making excuses, capture a lifetime of memories and just do it. I can’t guarantee you won’t miss flights, lose your luggage, spend more than you budgeted, get lost and even encounter some dangerous situations, but what I can promise you is this: If you don’t muster the inner strength to jump in with both feet, broaden your horizons and simply explore, then life will eventually catch up with you and the opportunity may be lost forever like the Temple of Baalshamin. Carpe Diem folks, carpe diem!