Prague is a city ripe with contrasts.
Beer flows and the babble of a hundred languages saturates the air. City squares pulse with people, necks bent, faces tipped upward admiring buildings looming overhead. To call these works of art buildings is to fall short of their grandeur.
For these are much more than buildings. These are structures, elaborately and painstakingly decorated to send a message to every soul who gazes their direction.
“I am important” they scream.
“I am valuable” they bellow.
The noise too intense, I flee the city center for a quieter part of town.
Here I find a green oasis rising above the city, hillsides cut with cobblestone switchbacks. Climbing to the top, I look down upon the luxurious city skyline and my ears are filled with whispers of trees, birdsong, the stirring of grass. I study the green space and find a welcome respite from the cacophony of buildings and people.
Slowly, carefully, I stride down the hill, picking my steps across the slippery stones. Hands hovering at my side, ready to catch me should I spill.
On the climb up, I felt bold, each step placed with confidence. Now, descending, I step lightly, careful to avoid a mistake.
As I near the bottom, the volume of the city increases. The rumbling of a train fills my ears as it rushes by. Through steamed windows I peer a crowd of passengers. I can almost smell the sweat and closeness of the people. People once again crowd into my camera viewfinder.
As the rain builds, I search for my next escape and quickly duck into a quiet art shop. The city is filled with Ateliers hawking pens, pencils, notebooks and canvases. This place compels creativity. It appears to be bursting from every corner.
Perhaps I misinterpreted the message of the fine buildings in the squares. Perhaps they spoke another message. Do they instead call upon us to reach deep inside, into the messy, beautiful part of each of us and pour ourselves into paper as art, words, expressions of our love for the world?
Perhaps it’s time to adjust the signal, listen differently. Find the quiet places to complemplate the noise and translate the message.