I am a productivity addict. When I am at home, I typically have my daily planner penciled to the margins. I often start my day before the sun comes up and schedule my day to continue several hours later than a normal person would consider a reasonable hour for bedtime. It gets neurotic and I am happy to say that life in Italy has been a sort of “productivity rehab” for me.
Dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) is a pleasure for which I used to incessantly guilt myself. It is not a pleasure for Italians, but a rather daily ritual comparable to brushing one’s teeth or taking a shower. As I indicated in my last post, I am all about cultural immersion and dolce far niente could be no exception. Sometimes I force it, but at least every two days I sit and do “nothing.”
Yesterday, my dolce far niente took place in a bar (café) where I sipped a macchiato doppio (double espresso with a touch of foam) and talked with friends for an hour. I also hiked a mountain while enjoying the sounds of nature: no phone, no camera, and no iPod. Last week, I strolled among the many tents at the San Lorenzo market without the intent to purchase anything at all. I learned to bargain with the street vendors and found some unique leather gifts for friends at home. Memories like those of sipping red wine on the terrace of our hotel, staring out at the hundreds of red rooftops and distant lush mountains; those of strolling the cobblestone streets in search of the best gelateria (ice cream shop); and those of enjoying an hour of sunshine alone with a good book will forever characterize my entire experience in Florence, Italy.
Hopefully, when I return to Bloomington in two weeks, dolce far niente will inspire me to continue this ritual on my front porch with a magazine, or in the Arboretum with some sunglasses and a towel, or on my bike, around Lake Monroe, without my heart rate monitor. Thank you Italy, for teaching me that productivity should be rewarded—with the sweetness of doing nothing.