Defender of the Nation - Mark Iandolo

The setting sun delivers golden light all throughout Edinburgh, from the Dugold Stewart Monument in the foreground to the Balmoral Hotel and Edinburgh Castle in the background.

At the heart of New York City rests the Empire State Building; at the heart of Edinburgh, an 1100-year-old castle upon a 150-meter-high, 350 million-year-old volcanic crag. Each is equally iconic – the Empire State Building an art-deco exemplar of the American dream, Edinburgh Castle a mythic ode to a bygone era of kingdoms and knights. And each is equally invisible, melting into daily life for those who live nearby. In Manhattan, businesspeople make daily passes by what was the tallest building in the world for forty years without looking up. And when I was in Edinburgh meandering through the park, I watched a game of frisbee; the participants were seemingly unaware that they stood underneath a castle built on rock formed millions of years ago. Why were they carrying about their day and not just standing and staring at the keep like I was? In the middle of their city, a giant rock just leaps up into the air, with a scene from Game of Thrones perched on top! This is not normal, don’t act like its normal, Frisbee-ers.

It’s not that we don’t appreciate the places in which we live. A New Yorker would be quick to defend the Empire State Building and the sheer will of recent ancestors who built it floor by floor. I’m sure an Edinburgh native would be proud of the formidable fortress, what with its millennia years of history and stories.

It’s that, when we see a sight over and over again, it loses some of its “magic.” Hence my addiction for constantly seeking out new adventures. Because there’s nothing like experiencing something for the first time. But it’s important to remember the daily moments, like walking among skyscrapers or playing frisbee with friends. Especially when the backdrop to the game is a fairytale castle.

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