I spent a good part of today exploring the city of Torino and another decent chunk of it learning about this fine country via school. I was in Italian class for a solid three hours, learning about combined and positional prepositions, and then went to the Egyptian Museum in town. I’ve been to two other Egyptian museums before: once when I was nine with my dad (the place kinda gave us the creeps), and once when King Tut was touring the world. While each was different, I thought all of them have been educational, and I am still amazed by the dedication the Egyptians had to their dead. Their sarcophagi and prayer scrolls (along with everything else in their tombs) are decorated so intricately, it never fails to amaze me. It was interesting to me too that the ancient Egyptians prepared their dead so that they were ready for the afterlife in their tombs, yet here we come, thousands of years later, to dig these people up and make their final resting place shelves in a museum. It doesn’t seem quite right or fair, but it certainly is educational. It’s also amazing just how well these people and their burial objects survived. I saw pomegranates from a thousand years before Christ was born. I saw sandals made of palm fronds, wigs made of human hair, intricately-carved headstands and hand-blown glass jars. And then I saw what remains of people from that long ago, and considering how old they are, they seem to be doing pretty well. We gotta hand it to the Egyptians: they really knew what they were doing when it comes to preserving humans.
Upon returning to my apartment, I made a quick lunch of fruits and vegetables (which was sooo tasty, actually!) and then went to the Mole (pronounced “Mo-lay”) with my roommates. The Mole, or “La Mole Antonellia” as it’s formally called, is the point of Torino. It was the biggest brick building ever made at the time of its construction. Basically, it’s the Space Needle of Torino (though – sorry, Italy – not nearly as cool). It did have a pretty cool view of the city though, and it was actually quite fun to go up in the glass elevator and see everything inside the Mole itself. Apart from being a tourist attraction in and of itself, the building also houses Italy’s National Cinema Museum, which looks neat too.
One other thing I found interesting about the Mole was that this was really the first time I’d been in a place in Torino where the people spoke a language other than Italian. I heard German and accented-English today, and it was kind of cool! Torino is definitely not a hot spot for tourists. In fact, I didn’t even really know about it until I seriously thought about coming here. And it struck me yesterday too: I’m living in a city where no one I know has even been before. The thought’s kind of terrifying, but in a really awesome and independent way. I’m learning so much by being here, and I love that it isn’t touristy – it’s really forcing me to learn Italian, and I’m quite fond of that.
We went to cooking class after that, where we made seven different types of pizza, including a Nutella one. We also had caprese salad, fruit salad with gelato, and this really delicious grapefruit Fanta. We waddled home afterwards, our stomachs full and our minds content.
Now here I am. I’ve spent some time tonight catching up with people back home and just thinking about life. I’d like to ponder the Egyptian Museum just a little bit more right now. The following is a quote from Alan Watts, a British philosopher and writer:
“Everybody should do in their lifetime, sometime, two things. One is to consider death. To observe skulls and skeletons and wonder what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up – never! That is a very gloomy thing for contemplation, but it’s like manure. Just as manure fertilizes the plants and so on, so the contemplation of death and the acceptance of death is very highly generative of creating life. You’ll get wonderful things out of that.”
I definitely pondered death today in the two hours or so I wandered through this museum. I don’t do this often, probably because I’m a very life-filled person who doesn’t particularly enjoy thinking about the end of my days. But the reality is that we’re all going to have to face it at one time or another. I saw a license plate frame once; it said, “Live life to the fullest. No one gets out alive anyway.” Isn’t that true, though? It’s the one thing that everyone on this planet has in common: we’re all going to die.
There was something so beautiful about everything in the museum today. To me, this much death in one spot is slightly depressing and kind of creepy. But the Egyptians put a huge emphasis on death and really found beauty in it. They embraced it as a reality and made something beautiful and unique out of it. And here, three thousand years or so after they performed all of their rituals and buried their family and friends, it’s still being looked at and thought about. It causes us to consider death.
I guess for that I’m thankful. But for now I’m going to try to stop considering it and instead think about happier things, like love and all that life holds for us.