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Ciao From the Other Side: No Day But Today

On my walk to take three midterms (yes, three; even Michigan would’ve let me switch one of those to another day), I was not going over last minute notes in my head or counting down the seven hours until spring break, I found myself looking. I was looking at the faces of the tens of hundreds of people passing me by as I proceeded down my normal route around the Duomo through downtown Florence. I began to question my safety.
 
Back home, on a regular basis I would find myself on transit into Grand Central station, crossing through Times Square whilst avoiding as many selfie-stick photobombs as humanely possible, en route to meet my parents in their Hell’s Kitchen apartment. Never once did a terrorist threat cross my mind. In New York City of all places, where you can find more police officers and security personnel in a 10-foot radius than in the entirety of my hometown, obvious reminders of the dangers from which they are protecting all of us, and each day I didn’t ever think about what could happen. 
 
So this was a strange feeling for me. I have now been living in Florence for two months, halfway through my study abroad experience and I feel comfortable enough to call this place my home for at least a little while. But today was different. A couple of weeks ago, there was an attack on a European city on my list to visit. That was not the first attack on an innocent city, and unfortunately, the element of surprise if another were to occur is running out. 
 
 
 
So I ask myself, is this is a new reality I have to get used to? Will I ever revert to my old blissful ignorance of thinking that this could never happen to me? When I finish out this term, return back to New York, and resume my old routine crossing Midtown, will the possibilities of what could be infiltrate my thoughts?
 
I visited Israel last summer. Similarly to that of Manhattan, and understandably so, security is high. I’m talking soldiers walking down the street carrying machine-guns high. As one of the greatest areas of conflict historically and today, the people of Israel are not ignorant of the reality. But they don’t live in fear either. One of the most refreshing things I learned on that trip was the importance of living in moment. I was traveling the state of Israel with eight others my age that were serving time in the Israeli Defense Forces. They had themselves witnessed devastation I could never imagine and put their lives on the line for their country, and here I was, twenty years old, where my biggest concern was passing my next economics course. Yet, they lived everyday like it was their last; in celebration of the present day. Every. Day. 
 
 
 
Living in Italy for two months has shown me a similar mentality. The way of life is seriously enjoyable. People walk into a coffee shop for one cappuccino and end up sitting there for hours. There is no sense of urgency to get in/get out. There is no “to-go.” 
 
So, here goes my halfway point conclusion: Yes, it is important to work hard today in order for a better tomorrow, but don’t forget to take time to enjoy today either. 
 
Tl;dr: carpe the f**k out of that diem.

 

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