I stayed in Ercolano, Italy because I found a highly rated hostel on Hostelworld that was half the price of staying in nearby Naples. I thought I’d have nothing to do there but relax or take the 25 minute train into Naples; I was wrong.

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Hostello Felice was near Pompeii and a hike up Mount Vesuvius. I had little interest in either of those. Maybe I would’ve been more into it if the other guests didn’t keep coming back saying how hot those places were. Vesuvius was a big hill with a view, I’ve been on big hills with views. Pompeii was a large field with no shade and scraps of things that used to be something, I like shade and things that are still something. (BTW the famous bodies frozen in volanic ash are in a museum in Naples.)

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Herculaneum was a five minute walk from the hostel. I didn’t even know it existed until the night before I went. It’s another site similar to Pompeii that was hit by the same Vesuvius eruption. The difference is that a lot more of it is still standing.

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I didn’t know what was real and what was rebuilt, recreated... fake. Some of the walls have been rebuilt. In one of the pictures of this post you can see the workers rebuilding a wall. I didn’t get it.

We were allowed to walk on the mosaic floors and they were wearing away. Were they the original floors? The more I think about it, I think not. Nothing kept anyone from touching any of the remaining mosaics on the walls. I was shocked. In another of the pics here you can see a wall that’s been vandalized with graffiti.

The skeletons in the cells, they were plaster casts. The statues were re-creations. The re-creations weren’t always labeled as such. If I’d read about the place or we’d hired a guide, I may have some answers as to why. It was more fun to wonder. Now I’ve moved on and don’t care enough to find out.

At the moment, I’m more interested in the sparks it set off in my head about the nature of reality. It’s always been a challenge to determine what is real, a challenge to define the word itself. Now, with technology having advanced at such a breakneck pace it’s even harder.

I think about how our beliefs become real in our heads, yet that’s all they are is a belief. The beliefs can be limiting or uplifting, harmful or beneficial to yourself and others.

When I went to the Picasso museum in Paris I stared at one of his best known works. I stood close to it, taking in the strokes of his brush, wondering why he chose the materials. I took it in as a master work that held some kind of special magic and power. It wasn’t until I wrote about the visit here on this site that I learned that the work I saw wasn’t the actual work. The real one hangs in a museum in Spain. It wasn’t even a replication, it was a reinterpretation.

I relished this revelation. I’d duped myself. I put value on it for the wrong reasons. But were they wrong? Is that work any less or more brilliant. It’s similar, but not the same, to the bias a bad movie review can instill in you if you’re yet to see the movie.... Or expectations in general.

Are expectations merely weakly held beliefs? You can have high expectations and get disappointed upon facing the reality, but a belief can distort the reality to stay intact. People that believe something find reasons for the facts to be false, they find new facts that fit their belief and hold on like a toddler getting torn from his mother.

Simply some thoughts that are spilling out of my head this morning. I go back to the states in less than a week. I have an overnight layover in Kiev next Tuesday- Next Wednesday I’ll be meeting my sister and niece in NYC, four days later I’ll be in my hometown at my parent’s house.

The past two weeks I’ve been processing the last ten months, the last year, all of my life. I’m gearing up to look forward to the next stage of my adventure. I’ve also been avoiding those thoughts, I read the last five Harry Potter books I’d never gotten around to reading.

At the same time I know my brain is conducting a transdirevational search, working in the background, taking in the current stimuli while it does some deep learning under the surface. Maybe, like something baking in the oven, I check in on it, give it a taste, inhale the smell, close the oven, sit back down, read, or watch behind the scenes interviews on YouTube about Seinfeld. Last night I watched a fascinating interview with Marlon Brando. Some people believe he was a crazy arrogant fool. I believe he was a genius.

“That’s like putting a fried egg in your armpit.” - Marlon Brando.