“Il dolce far niente”
I had read Eat, Pray, Love when it first came out and of course watched the movie with Julia Roberts the first week it screened. So many things spoke to me. I felt that my internal life was similar to Elizabeth’s. The longing and yearning to know who I really am.
Yes, we all play multiple roles. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister and in the past, mostly a doctor. My whole identity was wrapped up in these concepts. But those silent moments when I sit quietly, or wake up at 2 a.m. or my mind just goes numb for a nano second, there is a whisper that comes up from deep inside. It says, Who are you? Why are you here? Are you happy? I used to shut that voice down really quickly. I would look at those questions and feel lost. I had no answers.
Gradually, over time and having gained some wisdom that comes with experiencing life, I have developed the ability to sit with those questions a little bit longer. It dawned on me that I don’t necessarily need to bring up the answers from my mind or thought processes. These questions require introspection from a different level. Maybe from deep inside our hearts or souls. Maybe there are no answers. There is something exquisite about just leaving those questions hanging in the air, like diamond droplets from one’s ears.
This I think needs space. The Italian philosophy of il dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing. What a lovely, lovely concept. Space away from the noisy world. Space away from people, even our loved ones. Space away from the siren song of technology that surrounds us. Space away from our minds even.
In this space, we face our demons. We face our insecurities. We come face-to-face with our deepest desires and hopes and wishes. We can look them in the eye. We can feel okay with all that is flawed with us. We can also look at what is absolutely lovely about us.
The demands of society drop away. It’s like a shedding of the skin. We learn to let go of the old, that which does not fit us anymore. We create new, baby soft skin. But in order for this new skin to come into being, it is absolutely necessary to let go of the old to make way for the new. This cannot be done in the busyness of our lives. This metamorphosis can happen only with time and space and restful energy.
Everyone should make creating space in their lives a priority. Yes, we are all busy taking care of wordly business and going a hundred miles an hour. Our culture frowns upon leisure. Our mind’s little Gremlins whisper ” lazy, selfish” and other derogatory words to us. And we feel bad and run off to do the next “productive” thing.
This is escapism, people. It’s the ” I’ll be happy when….” syndrome. The time never comes. There are always challenges and obstacles and messy, life-y things that get in the way. Making space for what is important takes effort, it takes intentionality and planning. It takes boatloads of courage to go against deeply ingrained values.
But in the end, the results are sweet. You grow and become the person you were always meant to be and are able to generously offer your truly unique gifts to the world. And that is how, the world can change one person at a time.
So put some “me-time” on your calendar. Plan and dream about that next vacation. Sit in silence for a few minutes everyday, away from it all. Remember to take mini-breaks throughout the day, just to marvel at the unconscious effort of breath. At the miracle that is LIFE.