I traveled to Greece with my family for the first this summer and, being Greek, it was kind of a big deal. We did all of the typical touristy things; went to museums, took a bus tour, bought a “Greek for Dummies” book, etc. But my favorite part, and what Greece is most famous for, and what attracts millions of people from all over the world, were the Ancient Ruins. My family and I toured the Acropolis in Athens, the Sanctuary of Asklipieo at Epidaurus, my brother and I hiked up the monuments in Mykines, we walked around the Temple of Zeus and the Archea Olympia, and, believe it or not, many more. And although truthfully, most of the stuff just looked like giant rocks to me, at every giant rock we saw, there were always people admiring their beauty and taking thousands of pictures. I didn’t realize it at first, but every giant rock we saw had a story behind it. Some were tributes to Gods, some had scenes carved into them that literally told you a story, a few were thank you presents, and some were sacred monasteries that people devoted their lives to. I began to see what attracted so many people to all of these giant rocks. The fact that they were able to survive thousands of years and still be standing is beautiful and inspiring. People worship and believe in these rocks and base all of their values and beliefs on the meaning behind these rocks. Despite all of the rocks brokenness and cracks people still only see beauty. They see back thousands of years ago to the people who devoted their lives to these works out of art, that are literally made out of dirt and clay, and turned it into something that can be admired by billions and last just as long.
In chapter 7 of Repair, Elizabeth Spellman talks about ruins and “the power against which the reparative impulse are in the case of ruins greeted without opposition and often with a passion which even has its own name: Ruinenlust,” (103-104). Despite all of the hardships of nature and war and life, ruins are still left, somewhat, standing. They’re able to forgive and continue to live their lives even though there are millions of things working against them and millions of poisons trying to destroy them. Spellman said that “ruins offer the inevitable reminder that finally we all come to the same end,” (107). In Spellman’s eyes, ruins represent the end and sadness and false hope, but I have to disagree. I think they do just the opposite. Yes all things come to an end, but why not look at the life they lived and admire everything they’ve accomplished in the years they did survive. For example a tombstone, even though a dead person is lying underneath it and although it’s not as pretty as the ancient ruins, it still tells a story. The tombstone represents the life of the person underneath it. And just like ruins, tombstones last a long time and they are often visited by many people, although normally under a sad circumstance, they still attract visitors and people who truly care about what they represent.
Spellman’s focus throughout the book has been on repair, what is repair, what should be repaired, should all things be repaired, can all things be repaired? We don’t really know; most of the time we blame our problems on society instead of owning up to our own mistakes because we’re not being brave enough to admit that we’re apart of the problem. But this one word has so many hidden definitions and secrets and it represents something different in every single person’s eyes. Some people see it as a good thing and others as bad, but it can be both. Repair can be related to so many different things aswell, whether its clothes, relationships, ancient ruins, cars, or humans, it affects everything in one way or another. Everything makes mistakes and it’s up to the person or object who made them to either own up to it or hide from it. Ancient ruins aren’t people, they can’t run away when life gets hard, they just have to face the consequences. Ruins have to combat millions of problems throughout their existence and although what doesn’t kill them doesn’t necessarily make them stronger, they still try. Similar to humans, people are faced with difficulties every single day and they can either ignore them or be willing to do something about them. Like Spellman says, life is a cycle between creation, destruction, and reparation. You must feel the power of destruction to be able to learn from your mistakes and repair them. Now when we see ancient ruins we see beauty, they represent war and death and love and so many other things. People worship and have been worshipping these structures for thousands of years despite their decaying facade. I know now that these giant rocks, are more than just giant rocks, to me they represent art and they are apart of who I am. They make me proud to be Greek because I know how hard my ancestors worked to create something they were so passionate about and that have touched so many people.