Dolce far niente mean “the sweetness of doing nothing” in Italian. The Italians have something here. They relax, not relaxing like we do after a long hard week of work or school, but relaxing as in doing nothing. Sitting in a cafe enjoying their life. Cooking and enjoying their meal. This past weekend I attended a conference for women. My friend who has been a missionary in a remote area of Mexico was in town and needed a ride to the conference. On our ride she shared how busy our city was and I shared how busy my week had been. I seldom have true down time, I shared. I feel like I am always on the treadmill of life. “I cannot tell you the last time I sat and did nothing.” I think she was sad for me. When I meet people from other countries the one thing that I notice is that they are not very worried or in a rush to do anything. Even my foreign friends who are now american citizens, still enjoy life more fully than I do. They are calm and I want to be calm and insert “il dolce far niente” the art of doing nothing into my life. Living simple lives and enjoying the life I have now.
Weekends are packed full of events, chores and shopping. When was the last time you did nothing? When was the last time you spent a lazy afternoon gazing at the tree tops or relaxing on the couch without a care in the world. Gotcha on that last bit, right. Without a care in the world. How many of us can say that we relax without a care in the world? I will be honest and say that I have a hard time doing just that. I have tried, believe me. Coming from a family of worry warts who wanted everyone else to worry with them, it is not easy for me to cast my cares away. Leaving my concerns and just relaxing seems so foreign to me. And I rush everywhere I go these days. Meetings, appointments, school events, practice, and rushing here and there to get food and then collapsing in bed at the end of the day. I want to enjoy life. I want to live in the moment.
So I am encouraging you as well as myself, to set aside for a few moments this weekend and experience a bit of Dolce Far Niente.
Assignment : experience the art of doing nothing, live in the present moment.
DOLCE FAR NIENTE
Silence all electronics and listen to the silence.
Read poetry or a book
Find a park bench and sit
Listen to music
Sit in a cafe and sip on a beverage
Relax in a hammock or sit on the grass
Listen to your breathing
Cook and eat
Take a drive or bike ride
Simple ways lived out simply.
What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your ideas.