My January started off a little rough (everyone has the flu, things stopped working and now it’s -27 degrees Celsius here with the windchill. ugh). So it wasn’t the best month to start of something new, like a resolution. I think resolutions are too hard to keep and not keeping them is just an eventual disappointment. So this year, I have new years themes: what I want the year to be like based on my hopes and theories of what might make this year a bit more enjoyable than the last. One of these themes is to “go easy” on myself. I have a tendency to want to fill everyday, actually every minute, with something productive. Ask me to sit and watch TV, and I’ll do it while making a list in my head of everything else I should be doing or what I’ll be doing next.
It’s tiring. And I’m tired of it. It’s not that I want to do less either, I have a whole bunch of goals I want to reach, but I want to take time to enjoy reaching them and enjoy the time in between “doing stuff.” Maybe it’s the Canadian lifestyle in me and I have to admit what I’ve lost touch with in my Italian blood is “la dolce far niente”, that Italian lifestyle of enjoying the idleness of life.
Dolce Far Niente literally means “sweet doing nothing” = “Delicious idleness.” Sheer indulgent relaxation and blissful laziness, being deliciously idle.
If you’ve ever been to Italy you know just what I’m talking about: stroll along city squares, sitting in a café just because, enjoying the view because you can. And the best part about it is appreciating the fact that doing nothing isn’t bad at all, it’s part of life, probably a necessary part of life. I used to watch my grandfather enjoy it all the time (in his retirement at least), taking in the view of his garden from his patio chair as the day turned to evening.
Perhaps a scene from the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” explained the need for the idea the best:
“Americans. You work too hard. You get burnt out. Then you come home and spend the whole weekend in your pyjamas in front of the TV.”
I’ll take “Americans” here to mean North Americans – as my Italian cousins call us Americani anyway. And it’s true. Taking an hour-long coffee break just to enjoy conversation for the sake of conversation or to take in the view, isn’t even a thought here. My to-do list is too long so I’m taking the opportunity this year to cut it back and just enjoy the relaxing times with friends and family. I’m posting the Dolce Far Niente painting by Johne William Godward (at the top of this post), right by my desk remind me. I hope you join me this year in some Italian idleness!