Monday, December 5, 2011

the sweetness of doing nothing

there is this thing the italians call il dolce far niente. translation: the sweetness of doing nothing.

these people really know how to live.

il dolce far niente has nothing to do with laziness. quite the contrary, it has everything to do living life deeply and well—with slowing down and savoring life, lingering with the little things, getting out and drinking in the magic of the moment.

try it. do like the italians do. stroll through a garden, stand there, look around, touch the plants, the flowers, the statues, the water. smell them. visit an art gallery, a museum. meander through an open air market and along the colonnades of an outdoor shopping arcade, and then up to a piazza.

when you get there relax at a table for two, drink some nice local italian wine or a cappuccino. enjoy the view. watch the people go by (watch the world go by!) and then find a restaurant, order an antipasto and a primo (healthy whole foods) and eat slowly, as if your life depended on slow not fast.

there is another italian word related to this view of life—the passeggiata or the promenade. the idea behind this word is simple. everyone—young, old, couples, entire families—should get outdoors on weekends, stroll along, and take in their surroundings. italians wander and observe, chat and gossip, flirt and window shop. and eat.

the nice part about living life with gusto is that you don't have to travel to italy or anywhere far away to do it, and it can cost next to nothing. you can enjoy this outlook on life in your own area, neighborhood, town.

i find this manner of absorbing life, of living it to its fullest at a slower pace, of taking time for visits, passeggiatas and eating food—with sundays reserved as a day off for most shopkeepers—to be wonderful, civilized and healthy, unlike the wild wild west of american indoor shopping malls and fast food/junk food emporiums that are rarely closed and where the shopping rush is insane and sometimes dangerous (i'm thinking of the barbaric attitude surrounding the christmas season where mobs assemble outside stores which open at midnight after thanksgiving).

is the point of living, the way to find happiness and fulfillment in life, to be derived from a continuous, mad, addicted shopping orgy?

this crazy kind of hurry up culture is virtually unknown in italian society (or the rest of europe for that matter) and it used to be unknown here—italy's slower lifestyle is the way life used to be in the states. what happened? can we ever get back to what is real and slow down, focus on people, families, meaningful dialogue, and enjoy the simple things in life, instead of squandering existence on our plastic, artificial, unhealthy, fast, fast, fast shop-til-ya-drop mentality?

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