Life has a funny way of leading us to unexpected places in order to learn more about ourselves. What may seem like aimless wandering can at times be the catalyst for an epiphany. I embarked on this journey hoping that destiny, fate, Divine intervention would put me in the right places at the right times to learn, to grow, to stumble upon opportunities or people that could help me or that I could help, and fortunately on only my second day of my journey personal growth has already begun.
As my day began I had only one purpose in mind, and that purpose was to wander the streets of Milan without any prepared plan. I left my hotel and wandered till I crossed paths with a park, which I later discovered was Indro Montanelli Park. As I wandered the grounds I noticed how relaxed everyone seemed. People watched their dogs play in the little ponds scattered throughout the park, others quietly ate their lunch on benches as they took in the tranquil scenery around them, and many just leisurely walked around, stopping occasionally to watch the ducks swim in the pond or just taking a moment to be still and seemly absorb their surroundings. I was quite moved by all of this because this is something that I have been longing for in my own life. I have always lived my life at full-speed ahead, never taking time to be still, or notice the small things, and always forgetting to enjoy the moment.
After spending about an hour of walking through the park I finally made my way back to a road, and I headed West. I, in a way, just moved with the steady flow of people. I noticed how they did not walk with the usual brisk pace that I have become so accustomed to in Seoul. They simply took their time, randomly dropped into cafes or restaurants, window shopped at little boutique stores, or chatted amongst each other as they strolled along. Nobody seemed as if they were stressing about time; they all seemed present and in the moment. They did not seem as if they were already looking at the future and focusing on all the things that they needed to get done, which has always been an issue I have dealt with.
I continued walking until I ran directly into Sforza Castle. As I toured the grounds I kept thinking of the show The Borgias because that is my only real frame of reference when it comes to the Sforza family. As I walked around, I tried to imagine what the noble Sforza family was doing in their fortress centuries ago. It was a pretty cool experience. On the back side of the caste is another massive park. I strolled through the park and took time to watch the turtles basking in the warmth of the sun. I eventually came to the end of the park, which ends at the Arco della Pace. I found the perfect spot to sit down and rest my tired legs as I admired the monument. Half an hour later I got up and continued walking. I wandered through what I guess was the Chinatown area. Eventually, I found myself at a massive building that I thought was a massive church, but I was mistaken. It was the Cimitero Monumentale, a massive cemetery.
To be quite honest I have never been particularly found of cemeteries. I’ve always found them rather austere and depressing. However, there I was. From the moment I passed through the gate I felt as if I had entered some other realm. The silence was comforting and I felt drawn in. I slowly began to wander the rows of ornate tombs and monuments. I was overwhelmed by the artistry that went into their construction. As I wandered along, the silence gave way to my own inner dialogue. I began to think about how short life really is, how important it is to seize every moment and be present, how I should not let my past mistakes haunt or define the person that I am today, and how the future does not need to be something I constantly look at with a sense of anxiety and fear. My mind raced as I sauntered through the labyrinth of graves. The beauty I found in the statues reminded me that life is precious, and I need to stop living in the past and for the future, but I must be aware of the present and what I can do now to make a difference in my life and the lives of other. I can’t turn back the hands of time and make desired corrections, and I certainly can’t alter or predict future events, but I can try to be the best ME that I can right now. The realization of this immediately affected me. I felt lighter. A sense of peace seemed to be growing inside where the anxiety once lived. I know that living in the moment is something that is going to take practice for me to perfect because I have been doing the exact opposite for so long, but the knowledge and understanding that I gained on my walk through the cemetery, in my opinion, is invaluable not only for myself, but for everyone. Too often we are consumed by technology, the stresses of our futures, or haunted by the ghosts of our past, but it is NOW, this very moment that we can make a difference, and the present is where the majority of our focus should lie.
By the time I reached the exit I realized that I had spent almost four hours in there walking around, thinking, and snapping occasional photos. The experience I had and the understanding that I gained about my own life, to me, is a blessing. I hope I am able to move forward and be more present so that I can make the difference I desire in my life and other’s lives.