I'm Italian and Irish... but I was mostly raised by the Italian side of my family... and I had the opportunity to go to Italy a few years ago visiting Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Venice, Naples, and the Isle of Capri. While there I was reminded of something my Gram used to say to me whenever I'd ask her what she was doing? Typically she'd be sitting on her porch when this conversation would occur... but in short, she'd grin and say "Nothing."
Now this wasn't the 'nothing' in the general teenage angst sense, nor a sarcastic retort. NO, this was simply the truth.
After she'd done whatever chore she'd deemed necessary that day, she'd go out and sit on the porch (in warmer weather) or the basement couch (in winter) with a beverage, some bread, cheese, salami or pepperoni, etc. and just SIT.
The last few weeks, as I've been getting over my Texas allergies (yes, we have them in winter not spring), I've been rediscovering myself. Of course there's nothing like a trip to where you grew up to bring back into focus the Real You... who you are at your core. Anyway, in this continual journey of self discovery, I've begun 'centering' again asking: 'What do you want?' 'Are you happy? and if not, why not?' 'What makes you smile? feel accomplished or whole?' and then I came to realization that over the last several years, I've nearly forgotten how to RELAX. I get glimpses of this state of being known as 'peace' or 'relaxation' but overall, on a regular basis, it eludes me.
I am a Type A personality. Always seeing what else "needs to be done" and classically "never satisfied with the present."
I'm a visionary. A dreamer. Yet, I also have the ability, talent, skill or gift needed to make most dreams or lofty goal a reality when I set my mind to it.
While that's a wonderful quality for most things in life, it is also the very thing that sets me in constant conflict with "the art of doing nothing = DOLCE FAR NIENTE"
What is 'dolce far niente?' It's an Italian phrase literally translated as "sweet doing nothing" but also means "pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness." WOW. Look at each word in that phrase and do your best to absorb the delicious meaning of it all...
Seriously? Is that even possible????
Not just 'relaxation' but 'PLEASANT relaxation.'
"IN" not 'of' or 'for' or 'about' but "in" as in immersed, subsumed, whole...
"CAREFREE" = without care, worry, concern...
"IDLENESS" = Stillness.
One of my favorite quotable bible verses is "BE STILL (and know that I am God)" Psalm 46:10. Oh how I struggle to "be still," to "wait on the Lord." Many times I seem utterly incapable of 'stillness.' Eastern religion, the practice of yoga, and so many other things from spirituality to psychology all have elements designed to tame the human mind because we equate STILLNESS with PEACE.
Stillness for me is not 'emptiness' but rather calmness and quiet. And it most definitely requires PRACTICE because I'm always, always, always "doing" something.
Once again, I'm realizing how very RIGHT my grandparents are. There is a beauty in the simplicity of being verses doing. There is something essential about taking time to be still. There is something necessary and healthy and human that requires us to relax.
In this case, I fully believe the Italians have the right frame of mind: DOLCE FAR NIENTE, everyone!
On this Sunday - the biblical 'day of rest' - put aside your 'need' to 'do' anything today and instead seize the opportunity to do NOTHING!
THINK/FEEL. WRITE. BELIEVE. ACT.