Sunday, April 20, 2008
...Sharp Turn Ahead, Do Nothing
Okay. I admit it. I am reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin 2006), and I absolutely love it. It fits well with my general nature to question my decisions about what next what next what next what will I do next to make sure things are moving forward and doing so steadily. One of my greatest fears is to suddenly become stagnant. Idle. To quit learning, quit questioning, quit desiring. So, maybe every other woman in the nation is reading it (or probably already has, since the buzz about it started awhile ago), but my parents bought it for me for Christmas, and since I just finished Ruth Reichl's second book, Comfort Me with Apples--I found myself in the mood to eat....pray....love more than ever._
When Gilbert is in Italy, she writes about a conversation she has with her friend, Luca Spaghetti, (I know, right) she states, "...Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure...Americans don't really know how to do nothing. Luca Spaghetti tells her Italians are the "...the masters of il bel far niente." Elizabeth then writes, "This is a sweet expression. Il bel far niente means, "the beauty of doing nothing...even against that backdrop of hard work, il bel far niente has always been the cherished Italian ideal, the beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life's achievement. You don't necessarily need to be rich in order to experience this, either.
When I finished grad school, I told myself that for one year I couldn't over commit myself, couldn't run around like a crazy person filling my time with things I didn't really want to be doing. I needed to let the dust settle. I needed to just experience New York. Ironically, I seem to want to slowly take in the city that never wants to stop.
I have become so good at doing nothing. Not nothing as in not experiencing-- nothing as in, taking pleasure in the things that mean happiness. This point in my life is strange, because I find myself constantly thinking of what actually makes me happy. Not what should make me happy, but what actually does.
Last weekend David and I drove to Upstate New York to stay in my boss' country house, which is in a town (village?) named Ellenville. Our goal for the weekend? To do nothing. To be the masters of il ber far niente.
This was officially my first time "going away" with anyone (male wise) for an entire weekend, just the two of us. Sounds serious. We rented a car. We even almost got an SUV for only $15 more! Oh, sorry. It was taken. But wait! We still got upgraded to a mid-size for only $5 more a day! I tell you. Those Enterprise people can sell a rental car. We searched for a Wendy's, paid a few tolls. We even bought Combos and Vitamin water. No one could tell us we weren't on a road trip. dammit. Okay, so it was only two hours up there.
The house was fantastic... picturesque... quintessential...and extremely creepy when we first pulled up. You know, it was dark, it was a big looming white house, the young couple pulls up... I'm being dramatic, but you know what a mean. All was cured with a glass of wine and some chips and salsa. mmm. We spent the day on Saturday cooking, drinking Bloody Mary (s), grocery shopping, and just relishing in the fact that we were doing nothing and everything. We even went for a run. I think I groaned for half of it, but that might have been the Bloody Mary talking.
Posted by smartcookie at 9:54 PM