il dolce far niente

I’ve been working with a consultant lately. She’s amazing – skilled, experienced, all the things. After my first consultation, she told me, “Just keep doing what you do best.” Hmm. I went a little blank. What do I do best? I peered inside, and here’s what came up. Nothing. I mean “nothing” is what I do best. No, really…Nada. Doing absolutely nothing is, like, my jam. Or, perhaps it’s just that I like – I jest – prefer doing nothing, which, unmistakably, is when I’m at my best.

I understand what my consultant was trying to say, God bless her. She meant, until I’ve gained more skill with the thing I was consulting on, just keep doing what I do best, keep moving forward. I think it was meant to be hopeful and helpful. Little did she know, nothing is my best. Ha. That certainly cannot be good for business.

Then the other night I was watching Eat, Pray, Love, the movie. You know, the one with Julia Roberts, based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert? Elizabeth Gilbert inspires me. I love her podcast, Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert, her strength, her character, her vulnerability and authenticity. In the movie, the phrase dolce far niente comes up. Dolce far niente or il dolce far niente means, the sweetness of doing nothing. I dig it. I mean, just saying, dolce far niente, out loud is dreamy. Try it.

I know, I know…the phrase was made more popular by the book and movie franchise. I can’t help but believe, however, that the Italians have something that’s greatly missing for many of us living in America, including myself…this essence of doing nothing and enjoying it. That’s the kicker. It’s a way of life, a culture, a way of being. Enjoying doing nothing. Nothingness is that pleasant experience of enjoying time going by and not letting your thoughts take over, where all that matters is living in the moment – No stress, no pressure, nothing matters, just living in the moment, a “doing nothing” moment. Does it feel wrong, unnatural, suspicious? That’s the problem, right?

This is when I urgently tell myself, “It’s okay that you’re doing nothing but writing this post about nothing. It’s okay to let go, to be present and enjoy the process of writing, the fun with words and phrases. And, dammit, stop thinking about work and increasing my skill set for a blazing second.” Deep breath and a sigh.

So maybe there is something good about what I do best, which is, need I remind you and myself, nothing. Maybe if I practiced, nay embodied “the sweetness of nothing,” I’d be happier, less tired, less stressed, and feel freer. Maybe it’d take some years off. Wouldn’t that be freakin’ awesome? I dunno about your 2023, but mine has been bumpy. Turbulent. I got swept up in a whirlwind, tailwind, whatever you wanna call it, before I knew what hit me. Albeit, some of the circumstances were beyond my control. In any case, I lost sight and did a poor job navigating the winds. As things amped up, dolce far niente felt beyond my grasp.

And, I get it. We live in a culture where “running around” is common. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been in “learning and training” mode. It’s exhausting. My work/life balance got terribly unbalanced. It seems so easy to disengage from the things that bring peace and serenity to my life – being in nature, meditation, yoga, creative projects – in order to make room for obligations. Obligations should not take up that much space and deplete that much life force energy. It’s time to downshift and get back to what is needed.

I’m happy to say that the winds have died down. It’s not completely smooth sailing, but life never really is, is it? I’m setting a new course, something bound to happen again and again, no doubt. Getting back to what I do best. Nothing. The sweetness of doing nothing. And guess what, I’m gonna enjoy it.

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