Summer Time and the Art of Doing Nothing
Via Manifest-StationYoga on July 29, 2013
I think I have always loved the Italian language. Having a BA in Italian language and literature makes this fact by no means a surprise. Growing up and watching RAI – one of the Italian TV channels – somewhat instilled in me the love for this melodious language. I studied Italian for eight years and God knows how many componimenti (essays) I have had to write and analyze Italian poets, writers, and scholars.
Learning a new language is a transformative process – one learns of a country’s culture and point of view on different subjects: love, social attitudes and customs, likes and dislikes, history and politics. To this day, whenever I communicate and engage in Italian, I feel transported to another dimension of my being.
Through the years I have also had my share of heartbreaks with it too. I have fallen in love with different Italian poets and eventually ‘cheated’ on some of my favorite writers. It is never hard to have a favorite Italian tune on the tip of my tongue either, whether I am cleaning my apartment or just being in a good mood.
The list of likes is substantive when it comes to anything Italian. My critique of it follows too, but that would be another essay altogether. Yet, my love for this beautiful language, its singers, food, capuccino (or cappuccio as the Italians call it) as well as my fascination with this rich culture simply resist time.
In the midst of such vast cultural repertoire where so much can be admired and appreciated, oddly – at first sight – my love of it does not land in Gabrielle D’Annunzio’s and Francesco Petrarca’s (Petrarch) poems, which I joyfully used to memorize during high school, nor does it go in the direction of Dante’s fascinating idea of Inferno, aka karma (hey, you only rip what you sow!), or towards a long list of past and current writers and scholars. Instead, it lands in one particular verb: Oziare.
I respectfully like to add that the translation of this word to English just doesn’t do justice to its embodied conceptual and cultural richness. Idleness is but one of the connotations of oziare as the rest would be reflecting, absorbing, enjoying and cherishing – all in the NOW. The idea of being present in the now, while applying all of the above, is what oziare is all about. It is an active act of relaxation – one where while almost doing nothing, the subject is submitting him/herself to a meditative process of sorts.
With this semantic background in mind, and realizing this is a word that comes from a civilization that has given so much to the human tradition, would you be surprised if I speculated that the great Leonardo da Vinci would take time for some serious oziare in order to create the cupolas that hundreds of years later don’t cease to wow us?
But let’s not speculate at all actually. Any culture that has dedicated an actual word to the process of oziare needs to be applauded and studied carefully. In a way or another, a good part of the creative process consists exactly of this concept: doing ‘nothing’ on the outside, i.e., physically, while mentally, emotionally and intuitively one crosses worlds and runs through universes in search of a brush stroke, a musical note, or just a word.
Oziare. In Italy the act of taking time to enjoy food, be with yourself and family, is an art with deep roots. Those who have traveled there know way too well that people sit around the dinner table for a while, in order to enjoy each other’s company and conversation. Sadly, however, as globalization trends continue to sweep the globe we see how such customs start to change at least at a generational level where youth, for instance, start to adopt a lifestyle that emulates more and more the American culture.
Before summer is over, make it a point to pronounce this word out loud to yourself and actually live it even for an hour. Next time you decide to give yourself some time, as you lay on a beach chair, sand, or close to the one you love, say it like you mean it – mi piace oziare! (I love to rest!). Take your time to savor the moment – a moment that will never repeat itself in its full entirety.
We don’t always have the good fortune to travel to faraway wonderful places but luckily, we can let our minds and attitudes rest for a while as we adopt the best that cultures have to offer.
Wherever you are this summer give yourself permission for some well-deserved Oziare experience.
Make this your summer of Oziare.