Presence

As often happens, I meant to blog about Prague as soon as I got back. But then I got busy, and after a few days so much had happened that it no longer felt like the most pressing topic.

Which, funny enough, ties in quite well with the thing I wanted to blog about in the first place: being present.

Usually, when I visit a city, I look up a museum, or a castle, or a big ole church to go see. I find a park to sit in for a while. I track down the best street food I can find. By the time I leave, I like to have found a favorite spot to be my own, private landmark.

Prague felt different. I looked up the usual famous sites when I arrived, but as I set out to explore, I quickly lost interest in doing anything else.

To start, I kept getting disoriented, which rarely happens to me. I’m used to European cities, from the small ones with their narrow streets and winding, organic layouts to the grand capitals with their broad avenues and sprawling town squares. But Prague fell into an odd middle ground: modest enough to be largely without the wide thoroughfares of its Imperial neighbors, large enough to retain the sense of an endless, medieval labyrinth.

On my second day, I camped out for a coffee under an awning to avoid a slight drizzle. Once it abated, I resumed wandering for over an hour, eventually stumbling into the old town square, with its street performers, astronomical clock, and Gothic architecture. When I left the square, I picked an alley at random, walked a hundred feet, and suddenly found myself back where I’d had coffee earlier that afternoon.

Which was only one of about a dozen times this happened.

The weather was spotty, but I didn’t mind: Prague is as enthralling under overcast and rainy skies as in sunshine. Enchanting by night. I think I could even enjoy winter there.

And then there were the buildings themselves, each with their own charm and character, painted in a wild juxtaposition of colors: baby blue, dusty pink, green tea, gold, black. Some with with murals or designs, others with gables and arches, the whole such an eccentric hodgepodge of styles that its very eclecticism became a unifying theme.

As my weekend wore on, I came to realize that all I wanted of my time was to exist: to soak in the atmosphere, absorb the environment, bask in my surroundings, and remember. To slow down and forget about the rush. To be at peace. To make time for the present moment, and all the joy that exists there.

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