14 September 2010

~ il bel far niente ~

I have a problem, and I'm pretty sure many of you can relate.  (Creative minds think alike, after all.)  My problem is that I have an insatiable urge to do, do, do.  Try new recipes, make new crafts, find new hobbies, basically get every ounce of joy out of my life that I possibly can.  It's like being on a constant quest for contentment, only that contentment can never really be satisfied!  I want to learn new thigns, try new things, be good at everything.  It seems like that's just the nature of a creative soul.  Would you agree?

I read Eat, Pray, Love this summer.  More like devoured.  Although I couldn't really relate to Gilbert's sense of feeling displaced, I could certainly understand her approach to finding her place again.  She is unquestionably a passionate woman, a word that describes me as well.  Perhaps she took the search for herself a little further than many people would, what with her running off to multiple countries with wreckless abandon and all.  But I find the idea titillating.  (Not that I could ever really ditch my husband and children like that, but it sounds kind of dreamy all the same.)  You know, in a beautiful, free falling kind of way.

This was the kind of book that I read with a pencil in my hand.  Underlining, making notes, discovering things about myself that were always there but only just making themselves known to me.  Starting with this, which I truly could have written in my journal word-for-word:

"Over the years, my hypersenstitive awareness of time's speed led me to push myself to experience life at a maximum pace.  If I were going to have such a short visit on earth, I had to do everything possible to experience it now.  Hence all the travelling, all the romances, all the ambition, all the pasta.  My sister had a friend who used to think that Catherine had two or three younger sisters, because she was always hearing stories about the sister who was in Africa, the sister who was working on a ranch in Wyoming, the sister who was the bartender in New York, the sister who was writing a book, the sister who was getting married - surely this could not all be the same person?  Indeed, if I could have split myself into many Liz Gilberts, I would willingly have done so, in order to not miss a moment of life."

"I have searched frantically for contentment for so many years in so many ways, and all these acquisitions and accomplishments - they run you down in the end.  Life, if you keep chasing it so hard, will drive you to death.  Time - when pursued like a bandit - will behave like one; always remaining one county or one room ahead of you, changing its name and hair color to elude you, slipping out the back door of the motel just as you're banging through the lobby with your newest search warrant, leavbing only a burning cigarette in the ashtray to taunt you.  At some point you have to stop because it won't."

"Letting go, of course, is a scary enterprise for those of us who believe that the world revolved only because it has a handle on the top of it which we personally turn, and that if we were to drop this handle for even a moment, well - that would be the end of the universe."

I remember once feeling just awful that I couldn't make it to a church meeting for a calling I held at the time (for those of you who don't know what I am talking about, callings are the duties we perform in order to keep our church self run). I was good friends with one of the women I served alongside with and she turned to me and said, "I know, you don't want to miss it. You hate to miss things." It was such an accurate observation of me. I do hate to miss things. It's a wonder I slept through the night before 6 weeks old! Obviously you can't go through life expecting to experience everything. You'll go mad trying.

Well, I'm getting there! Hahaha.

I only wish I could, as Walt Whitman said and Gilbert quotes; "stand apart from the pulling and hauling... amused, complacent, compasionating, idle, unitary... both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it all." Sigh. It never fails. If I go to the ballet, I come home and try on my old pointe shoes. If I visit the museum, you can find me - paint brush in hand - the next day.  If I attend a rousing ball game, well I just might decide the next day that it's time I join a league!

It's not that I think I'm all that, truly it isn't.  It's simply inbred.  From the age of 5 my mother had me in a variety of extracurricular activities, urging me to achieve, achieve, achieve.  And then she'd brag, brag, brag about us.  Which has lead to me often dodging compliments, or turning them around.  They make me feel uncomfortable, like I have to prove to people that I'm not self absorbed or arrogant.  Despite all that... I don't know how to drop the handle.

But I've got to learn.  A couple weeks ago I had a not-so-kind wake-up call.  Actually, 2 of them.  Firstly, I haven't been able to run for almost 3 weeks, and will continue to rest for at least another 3 while I do rehab on my knee.  Running has become my lifeline.  There is nothing sweeter for a woman on the go like myself than a good rush of endorphins to help you feel truly invincible each day.  Secondly, not 4 days after putting the brakes on running, I found myself in a heap of emotions over the to-do list that has become my life.  Probably in part because of the lack of endorphin rushes, but also in part becasue no one's really ever invincible. And I've been questioning ever since that breakdown, what am I really trying to accomplish here?  Life is not an Olympic event. 

I can't remember who said it, but I read somewhere that your true person is the person you see yourself as, not the person you portray.  Meaning, you can go through the motions of being this together person who's always on the ball, but if your perception of yourself is discontented, then that's in truth who you are in the end.  An empty bucket.

You may have noticed that I changed my "about me" in my sidebar recently.  I included a phrase I learned of in Eat, Pray, Love.  "il bel far ninete" - which is Italian for "the beauty of doing nothing".  The true desire of my heart is to learn to savor the moments in my life, rather than trying so hard to LIVE them to the fullest.  They are, as I am finally learning, not the same thing.  And it's not that I have to change who I am, just how I feel about myself and what I expect for myself, and the pace at which I live.

Wish me luck.


Anne said...

nice post...i loved that book, too. good luck!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Lately I have been embracing the less is more idea, that simplicity is what is best for me. Let me tell you, I have been enjoying it :) !! Good luck on your quest to find the proper balance of living, doing and enjoying!

Lei said...

Thanks Lucy. You know, my kids could really benefit from it too. They are not yen kiddos, and they could sure stand to learn to quiet down! Maybe I can even get them to meditate once in a while. ;)

Clark Mills Family said...

Oh I love that phrase! Gonna have to steal it! We have come back from our vacation and now its all about"il bel far ninete" simplifying is good but man I need a hobby! --or the Elders back! Hope you are getting better! XO

One Fish said...

Nice post. I wish you luck in your journey to find balance. If you find any great secrets out please share!

Jeanneoli said...

What a beautiful and honest post. I hope you find that balance that can be so hard to find.

LuckyStarHeather said...

Just wanted you to know you're not alone...in the wanting things to be different, or in not being sure how to get there. I've been saying no more. I think it has helped. Anyway, it was nice to read this ;)

natalie said...

Well said! I also loved that book for the same reasons. I was kind of frustrated when we read it for book club a few years ago and it seemed like no one saw what I saw in that book. So glad someone else did!
Also that is one of my favorite qualities in Italians... They know how to enjoy life. :)

Christy said...

Beautifully written! I have a lot to learn from you.... :)

Z said...
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