Tomorrow in Pompeii

I visited the ancient city of Pompeii last week. This is the city near Naples, Italy that was swallowed up by a volcanic eruption in the year 79 AD. It was buried in ash for over a 1000 years and rediscovered in 1599 when excavation was begun on a costal highway.  

It was an amazing, surprising, incredible, and shocking place. I was amazed by the sheer size of it. To say it was sprawling would be an understatement. Some of the dwellings were huge, even by today’s standards. There was clearly a class system in place and some were obviously better off than others. I was surprised by how advanced it must have been for the time. There were many shops and storefronts, there must have been a pretty advanced system of commerce. Speaking of commerce there were somewhere around 20-25 brothels in Pompeii to service the visiting sailors who arrived in their port. 

The layout and engineering of the city was incredible. Their ability to collect and direct water was very advanced and we even saw what was described as the first retail bakery shops. I don’t know how they can be certain they were the “first” but no other civilization is coming forward to dispute the claim so I guess they have it.

Most of all I was shocked by how suddenly it all ended for them. They figure the people of Pompeii were gassed by the volcano and then buried by the ash. That’s why the bodies, buildings, and roads are so well preserved. It’s that preservation that shows so much detail about how the people lived their everyday lives. 

It looks like they had pretty darn good lives. They lived very much as we do today, it appears they had jobs, hobbies, family, and friends. They enjoyed a good meal and time to relax. They worked hard and it showed in what they were able to build. They prospered right up until the time they didn’t. 

People being people I’ll bet many of them had plans for tomorrow on the very day that the volcano erupted. People they were going to talk too and important things they wanted to accomplish. An unfinished task they were finally going to get completed. Perhaps some were finally going to deliver a long overdue “thank you” to someone who had shown them kindness. So much to accomplish tomorrow.

But tomorrow never happened. 

Here we are thousands of years later, I’ll bet many of us have plans for tomorrow. Some little things we want to do. Some big big plans to begin that we know will change our lives. Some of us perhaps have some relationship fences to mend or we owe someone a long delayed apology. Tomorrow will be the day we make it right. 

But what if tomorrow doesn’t happen? 

The people of Pompeii were literally frozen in place. They died and their plans died with them. Many of us are metaphorically frozen in place, frozen in today, always waiting until tomorrow to tackle that tough task or unpleasant, challenging conversation. 

But what if tomorrow didn’t happen?

What are you putting off until tomorrow that you could just as easily do today? Take a moment right now to ask yourself why you’re not starting today. Be honest with yourself and be especially honest about whether you have a legitimate reason or just a procrastination inducing excuse. 

Whatever you can do today, do today. We may not all lose tomorrow the way the people of Pompeii did but for each of us there is a day when tomorrow will not happen. Perhaps we’re better off living as if that day might possibly be the day we’re living now. 

11 thoughts on “Tomorrow in Pompeii

  1. Incredible photo Steve! Do you have more of Pompeii?

    You are so right. I certainly didn’t anticipate my husband dying when he did. I was at work. He played all 4 quarters of a city league basketball game. We had plans after I got off work to do dinner and a movie. Instead, the rest of the day was spent with my children and I trying to come to turns with his unexpected death and saying our good-byes to his lifeless body in the ER at the hospital.

    I learned the hard way. The only day we will ever have to love people is TODAY. That’s it.

    No one is GUARANTEED a tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Yep, I took lots of photos, some like the one on the part, some kinda funny, some amazing, and some just plain surprising. I should probably put them out on my Facebook page….

      You’re right or course, tomorrow IS NOT promised but lots of people live as if it is…. Including me at times.

      • I keep looking at the photo above. Is the figure in the back actually sitting up and leaning over or am I seeing things?! I’m still trying to understand how they were preserved in those positions.

        Anyway, I imagine lots of people live rather mindlessly until they lose someone significant enough in their lives that they can’t ever forget. Knowing what I know now, I don’t want people to love me after I’m gone. I want people to care about me when I’m alive. And it seems many people don’t really care about others until AFTER people aren’t here anymore. What good does it do anyone then?

        Just some afterthoughts on that subject….

      • It is amazing how the people were literally frozen in time. It looked to me as if some were trying to cover their mouths. It’s like they knew something was wrong, maybe saw people dropping around them are were terrified and confused.

        I wonder just how long it took for all of them to die?

        You’re right of course, many people don’t appreciate who and what they have until they no longer have it. That to me is one of the biggest lessons of Pompeii, one we would all be better off learning BEFORE it is taught to us personally.

  2. Steve Borek says:

    Wow, I never heard of this event up until now. Great message as well. We all have an expiration date not knowing when our time is up. We also think we have more than enough time.

  3. A great read – I’ve always been drawn to Pompeii, and hope to visit one day. The harsh and sudden end to an entire population absolutely does serve as an important reminder of just how short and precious life is. A good reminder to all of us to live for today.

    • It’s a pretty haunting place. It’s seems they had a great life, not much different than we have today really. It truly shows how fast it can all end.

      If you get the chance you should definitely visit it, you’ll never forget it.

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