Thursday, July 11, 2013
If you had a chance to relive one day of your life every day forever - do you know which it would be? Do you know what you would be doing? Would you be working? with friends? camping? sailing? eating and drinking?
The ancient Etruscans believed that when you are buried you can put yourself in surroundings where you can relive a day forever. And just East of Tarquinia, a couple of hours drive north of Rome, you can go and see their tombs and their vision of the best of days. Just below the surface of a series of hot dusty hills, there are about 6,000 tombs. They make up the ancient Etruscan necropolis (from 700BC to 100BC) and about 150 of these tombs have been excavated and are gloriously painted with artist's visions of the best of days.
About 20 are now open. For each tomb you climb down a steep set of stairs, climbing down into the cool from the scorching midday heat. At the bottom you push a button to get light and then press your nose to the glass pane sealing the painted walls in, and imagine that day. Imagine the day the owner described to the Greek artist of how he'd like to spend his eternity. What day did he pick for he, and usually his spouse, to repeat forever?
So what day would you want to repeat over and over?
Would you want to be at a feast, eating and drinking with your friends and entertained by music and dancing?
Would you want to be out in nature with birds and dolphins, forever in the sunshine and water?
Or would you be in the office, working hard, making the world a better place? This is unlikely - as the WSJ reported yesterday - most people would rather not be at work, even if the work is meaningful.
After seeing the tombs last week we did a quick survey of our little group around the bar table - recovering from the heat with crisp Italian beer. The answers to how each person would decorate their tomb were revealing. One would be hiking in the Sierras, one would be kiteboarding on the San Francisco Bay (yes no prizes for guessing that one's my husband), one would be with friends on a wine tour, one would be with her children.
And me... I'd be in my garden entertaining my friends and family at the outside dinner table. I'm in agreement with the 2,500 year old couple from the Tomb of the Lionesses - there is no better way to spend a day than outside at a banquet with friends.
And you - what would you chose?