dolce far niente

When you live in a sun-filled environment, there’s nothing quite like waking up to the rain. The earth soaks up the moisture and breathes a sigh that’s smells so sweet it’s almost painful. There’s very little birdsong and I can imagine them huffed up, hiding under leaves or cuddled together quietly chatting about how good the rain is. Perhaps one spies a little earthworm struggling out of the softened soil for a quick look around before diving back under where it’s dark and warm.

The soul song movie of most women was on TV the other night and I watched it again – EatPayLove. In it, there’s a gorgeous scene that takes place in a barber shop in Rome where the Italian characters tell the American woman about the sweet art of doing nothing. The one character goes on about how Americans (and probably most of us who aren’t Europeans and don’t have siestas in our vocabulary) think we need to work in order to deserve leisure time. That we work all day, all week and then ache for the weekend when we are given a couple of days in which to do as we please.

The character then says that Italians don’t feel they have to work in order to do something divine or time wasting. They know they deserve it. Americans and the rest of us, on the other hand, feel we have to do something worthwhile or productive in order to deserve a break.

I think I want to move to Italy – just for that – dolce far niente.

Ok, Italy also has amazing food, incredible ancientness, history, style, language that’s so expressive you almost don’t need words and the list goes on forever.

But, we live now in a global environment where every culture in the world can seep into our bones, giving us the opportunity to reshape our own lives, habits and culture. So this week and for the rest of the year, I’m going to practise this art. Not necessarily of doing nothing, but of understanding that I deserve pleasure in whatever form it presents itself to me.

A moment alone on a rainy Saturday morning; a freshly brewed espresso; a pastry that melts in the mouth and leaves crumbs everywhere; a sudden visit to the movies in the middle of the day (preferably on a Monday); the purchase of a bright scarf  I may never wear; the joy of a two hour lunch with an old friend. I’m not going to wait until I feel I’ve done enough penance to deserve such things.

I’m going to call in well at work, instead of sick. In fact, I’m going to call in well to life and embrace the beautiful, almost hedonistic tenet of dolce far niente.

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