If you know me, then you know that I hate doing nothing. Although I might complain about my long to-do list with classes, meetings and homework, I would rather have lots to do than nothing to keep me occupied. I have an unhealthy obsession with checking for the blinking red light on my blackberry and keeping my Ical updated with everything from my workouts to nights out on the town; busy could be my middle name.
However, when I was abroad last spring, I learned from the Italians that there is an art to doing nothing, literally translated to “l’arte di non fare niente.” It is not so much that the Italians do nothing all day, but rather they appreciate their downtime as periods of rest and relaxation. This explains their multi-course, two-hour plus dinners. This explains why the majority of family owned businesses shut down for a few hours in the middle of the day. This explains why Sunday is considered to be the laziest day of the week in Italy, when the day is devoted to family and only tourist-driven shops are open for customers.
Although it took some getting used, I did eventually appreciate those afternoons abroad when I had nothing to do (art history reading aside). Most days, I would hop on the bus and stroll the streets of Florence, taking in the sweet smells of the cafes and bakeries and sitting down for a hot caffè. People watching became my favorite way to pastime. Even when I could not fully understand the rhythm of Italian sentences flowing from the mouths of the locals, the dialogue was like music to my ears.
After I left Italy, I vowed that I would take more time to appreciate the time when I could nothing. Unfortunately, like some of my resolutions, I have not lived up to that promise. Between work, school, homework and everything in between, most of my downtime is spent catching up on my email or, if I’m lucky, napping.
Fortunately, this spring break has afforded me the luxury of a week of nothing to do. Yes, there are technically things on my to-do list, but with this being my only respite in paradise for who knows how long, those things can wait. In comparison to last year’s spring break when I was global traveler, this year I am taking things easy.
Waking up naturally to the sun beaming through the windows and the hum of the fan circling overhead has been much preferred to the blaring of my alarm at 6:40 a.m. With no pressure to be anywhere at a certain time, I have lounged in my pajamas for hours after getting out of bed, and then went poolside for a “therapy” session with my yoga mat. I have laid on the chaise lounge outside and fallen asleep listening to the ripples of the pool. I have stared at a full-moon while the wind shuffles branches the palm trees on the lawn.
I keep telling myself that my email, my homework, even my food blogs will get read and done eventually. Next week I will be back at Georgetown and back to my normal early mornings and late nights. Here, the time on the clock doesn’t matter; it only matters that I am appreciating what time I have to enjoy myself.