Il bel far niente means "the beauty of doing nothing" in Italian. I don't speak Italian, but I've been reading a book, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, that has been quite entertaining so far. A bit of fluff perhaps, but a fun read even though the author has little in common with me. And I had to laugh when I read "Il bel far niente" because just as the words were going from my eyes into my mind, I realized I was experiencing the closest I'd come to "doing nothing" in a long, long time. And so was Mike.
We were at the condo open house and hadn't gotten any traffic yet and were hanging out in a pacing, uncomfortable kind of way. We decided to go lie down in one of the bedrooms and just relax, or - as it felt to us - do "nothing". Mike started to fall asleep, so I picked up Eat Pray Love and started reading. Although I was reading, I still felt as though I was experiencing what the book was describing - the beauty of doing nothing - because it was peaceful, unplanned and still. Something Mike and I don't have nearly enough of in our lives right now. Our days are push push push until we finally collapse 17 hours after we got up when it's time again to go to bed. We don't want it that way - at all - but until certain things happen in our lives we can't afford to kick back and relax too much. There is too much to do, take care of... keep on top of.
I continued to read about how Il bel far niente has always been a cherished Itlalian ideal. "The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life's achievement."
Now, I don't now about the rest of the world, but here in the United States it seems we need to feel that we have earned our happiness before we can experience it, and even then there is that ticking in the back of our minds that we should be productive. Always. Mike and I both struggle with that a bit. I can't relax at home until the house is clean. I can't watch a movie unless the laundry is done. And, for some reason, if Mike is working, I feel that I should be working too. Or there is guilt. In this country I think part of it stems from the old, ingrained Puritan Guilt that affects us whether we want it to or not.
But the bigger part of for me isn't that I feel I should be productive for the sake of just being busy and constantly working; it's that I have a life-time of ideas constantly bubbling throughout my mind that I want to do. I like creating things. Making things. It doesn't matter if it's something I cooked, sewed, crocheted, grew, threw on a potters wheel, wrote in a blog, shot with a camera or made with oils and lye. I like to create things. So I am always researching the best way to do this or that, or I'm almost always in the process of learning a new technique or recipe. Since I work full time, and have a house to maintain too, my creative time is limited - so I grab what I can when I can.
I'm not sure when I will experience much Il bel far niente. It's funny that I should read about it while I was experiencing the closest thing to it. I read a lot, but most of what I read is instructional or reference. I've not read a fiction book since I met Mike six years ago. And, I didn't seek this book out, it just presented itself to me. I was in a co-workers office and it was lying on her desk. I read the title, "Eat Pray Love" and it sounded interesting. That was three weeks ago. I am now on page 70. I'm not a slow reader; that's just all I've been able to squeeze in since then.
Il bel far niente. Hm. I aspire to more of that. One day. When everything I want to do has been done.