Thursday, February 7, 2008

Eat~Love~Pray---"il bel far niete"

This is a quote from the book that I found very interesting. To our children I will just say that; No, the names have not been changed to protect the innocent or the guilty...this actually happened in someone else's life too!

" While I came to Italy in order to experience pleasure, during the first few weeks I was here, I felt a bit of panic as to how one should do that. I come from a long line of super conscientious people....My parents have a small farm, and my sister and I grew up working. We were taught to be dependable, responsible, the top of our classes at school, the most organized and efficient babysitters in town, the very miniature models of our hardworking farmer/nurse of a mother, a pair of junior Swiss Army knives, born to multi-task. We had a lot of enjoyment in our family, a lot of laughter, but the walls were papered with to-do lists, and I never experienced idleness, not once in my entire life.

Generally speaking, though, Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one. Americans spend billions to keep themselves amused from theme parks to wars, but that is not exactly the same thing as quiet enjoyment. Americans work harder and longer and more stressful hours than anyone in the world today. But as my friend pointed out, we seem to like it.
Alarming statistics back this observation up, showing that many Americans feel more happy and fulfilled in their offices than they do in their own homes. Of course we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating straight out of the box and staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working, yes, but not exactly the same as pleasure). Americans don't really know how to do nothing. This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype--the over-stressed executive who goes on vacation, but cannot relax.

I once asked my friend if Italians on vacation had the same problem. He laughed so hard he almost drove his motorcycle into a fountain. "Oh, no!' he said. 'We are the masters of il bel far niente!' This sweet expression means 'the beauty of doing nothing." Now listen--Italians have always been hard workers, especially those long-suffering laborers known as bracciante (so called because they had nothing but brute strength in their arms to help them survive in this world) But even against that backdrop of hard work, il bel far niente has always been a cherished 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."

Does anyone find some truth in this besides me? My Italian husband will hopefully catch a glimpse of this in Italy. We all need to find balance in this and not just do, do, do all the time. Sometimes I feel like we are human doings, rather than human beings. Don't get me wrong, I adore an excellent work ethic and all, but I think a reasonable portion of relaxation in each life is essential to good physical, spiritual, mental and emotional health. I am not espousing laziness, or idleness, or being irresponsible but rather a balance in our lives. If one choses to "work" at this, so be it. This is something we all need to consider and ponder. One needs to be careful when following the old adage "first we work and then we play" as this balance we seek, may become illusive. This seems to be so since, as we know...the work never ends!

OK, I am climbing down off my soapbox for awhile!


Miss Jen said...

wow, that is interesting. Dad does not have one ounce of that does he?

Sounds like I need to read this book since it inspired 3 blog posts!