This evening I’m writing from in front of a fountain on fighting and fear.
Warning: Paracetamol and sun cream does not stop lava.
I’ve been tempted by the idea of writing facing fears. I have been working on several books, and one is on warfare. Being here and working on it, as well as today is a public holiday in Italy for independence from fascism. It reminded me of my great uncle who had told me he landed in Sicily and D-Day. So during some research, I discovered that they either landed in Siracusa or just south of here. Strange to think the last family member to be here was possibly fighting in these very streets. Talk about facing your fears. Yet, when you listen to that generation, and how they faced it, you will often hear, ‘it was what we had to do’, or ‘I didn’t want to be away because that meant someone else had to pick up the slack that I had created’.
When I came here, I quoted from a show, about a psychologist who had decided he needed a new adventure.
“while it’s tempting to play it safe, the more we’re willing to risk, the more alive we are. In the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took.”
Instead of staying, he left and moved to a new city. It seemed to me that the point was to face a fear of the new and unknown, to go on an adventure regardless of age. I can’t compare fighting in the streets to moving to a new town and country. Yet it was interesting to hear from my Gran recently, she thought I had been brave in just moving, being alone, not speaking the language, just doing it, and going, and this lady had lived through World War Two. An interesting thought, and not something I would agree with. Naturally, bravery comes in many forms, and it’s been interesting being here with a city that’s in constant danger with Europe’s most active volcano on its doorstep. Which according to new data is possibly, slowly, slipping into the sea. I’ve been here 6 weeks, and I have already taken more steps to be protected from Volcanos and earthquakes than I ever did with London or the U.K. Earthquakes seem to hit Italy every 2-3 years, and Mt Etna appears to be irregular but still active. I did read a story from 1669, where villagers from Catania went up the volcano and bravely fought off the Volcanos lava flow, which was headed to the village. They took wet sheepskins, pickaxes and shovels, and had seen some success in changing the direction. However, they were chased off the mountain by people from Paterno, who felt that the lava flow was being painted in their direction! The lava still made its way to Catania. So based on these stories and events. I actually have a prepared bag, with everything from a Swiss Army knife to sunscreen and paracetamol. Far more than I’ve ever done for the terrorist threat on the U.K.
I think one of the nicest things I’ve heard since I’ve been here is a friend, who took on a small fear. Every morning this week I have headed to the beach first thing in the morning. To sit in the glorious sunshine on a hot beach. Then to jump into a mildly warm sea and swim out to the seaweed. A friend had mentioned that she had never snorkelled and had a slight fear of it, and she and her friend decided that morning to just go and try it out. After 20 minutes, I jumped in and swam out to join them, as I joined I asked: “how’s was it?” She said “Fine, I enjoyed it.” Foolishly I then mentioned how I had not swum this far out before and that it was deep, then pointing out I sometimes had to resist playing that jaws music. Suffice to say we quickly came ashore.
On that note, I’m going to continue walking through some of these romantic streets.