Click here to view the published article: The Italian Art of Doing Nothing
Clad in sweatpants, binge watching documentaries on Netflix, and scarfing down Lay’s potato chips one Saturday afternoon, I looked out the window and realized I hadn’t breathed fresh air in in about 24 hours. My lungs were taken back to a time, just a couple years ago, when I took in the warm, sweet scent of Italian air.
It was also a Saturday, and I was sitting on the terrace of the house I was renting in Dazio, a quintessential Italian village high up in the mountains. I was eating prosciutto, looking out at pine trees and memorizing that kind of blue sky that takes you back to childhood summers where all you cared about was where your next ice cream would come from and when your dad would be done grilling the steaks for dinner.
In the book Eat, Pray, Love, Lucca Spaghetti tells Elizabeth Gilbert about the Italian art of “La Dolce Far Niente,” which, roughly translated means, “the art of doing nothing.” Many people, especially Americans, could use a little “nothing” in their lives. However, what exactly does it mean to do “nothing?”
Well, you could just sit on your floor for an hour and see where your thoughts take you, but it’s so much more than that. It’s more than mindfulness or meditation. It’s about savoring your food, rather than inhaling it while you try to watch CNN, check Instagram and down a cup of caffeine in between. It’s savoring the sweetness of life itself; fresh air, unknown flavors of food, anything and everything that appeals to your senses.
How can you experience “La Dolce Far Niente?”
1. Stop saying “I’m busy” as if it’s something to be proud of
Running around, frazzled, and not able to keep 4 thoughts in your head is not something to aspire to, and if you live like this, everyday of your life will combine with the next until your living one big blur of existence.
2. Savor every bite of food you put into your mouth
Don’t inhale your food while you focus on other things. Food; real, fresh, authentic food, is meant to be enjoyed. If you can’t enjoy a good bowl of pasta, what is else is there to live for? Tiramisu perhaps?
3. Really listen to people
Put your phone down and look at the person in front of you. Do something crazy, like having a conversation!
Before phones, computers, and televisions came out, people used to converse with each other for entertainment and connect to other living beings because that is the way it was intended. If we were all meant to stare at screens there would be no point in interacting, laughing, loving, and being passionate.
Next weekend, try waking up on a Saturday morning with a new mindset, the mindset of Italians. Enjoy the silence, stay in bed a little longer, eat something delicious (and not at all good for your waistline,) have sex with your partner, stare at the ceiling, open the window, breathe in fresh air, just be.