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Dolce Far Niente

The first time I heard the phrase, "Dolce far niente," was years ago when I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I sat mesmerized as Julia Roberts sat on a chair in the corner of a men's barbershop eating fruit. One of the patrons shared his disdain at Americans and their lack of understanding the Italian way of life. He used the example of our ignorance of rest and did his best to explain the concept to Ms. Roberts. Shortly thereafter, another patron chimed in and said, "Dolce far niente is the sweetness of doing nothing." Powerful words for a simple task, you'd think. But for some, that simple task is next to impossible.

I am one of those who find it difficult to rest. A typical type A personality, I've always been an overachiever. I work hard. I play hard. And, if I don't have something to keep me busy, I find something to do. My husband, on the other hand, knows the value of rest. He has no problem fitting it into his daily schedule. For years, He's encouraged me to practice the art of resting and although I've tried, I haven't been successful.

Since my diagnosis with breast cancer, I've lived with a sense of urgency. There's an underlying feeling that time is of the essence and that feeling has pushed me into a tizzy. From the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, I am making the most of my 24 hour day. Rest never crosses my mind except on those rare occasions when my back screams out in pain and forces me to stop for a short respite.

Practicing the art of dolce far niente has been a challenge and one task I'm determined to master. Even the Bible emphasizes the importance of rest - "Be Still, and know that I am God." That verse has become a constant reminder that I need to take time to stop and that it's okay. And as I've begun to learn how to master my constant busyness, I've developed a new found respect for the art of doing nothing. I've also found my days stretch a little further as I make room for periods of nothingness.

Sitting with a steaming latte or lying across a bed looking out an open window as the sun beams across freshly mown grass are not only pleasurable intervals, they're also small examples of the larger joy that awaits.


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