A simple but never-done-that-before experience reminded me of such this weekend.
Seeking a change of scene and pace we had planned a couple of days in Ventotene, a charming island off the coast of Naples. The real adventure however was to be found enroute, in the less charming town of Formia. We ended up in a cafe there, as a ‘pit-stop’ to decide how we would pass 6 hours in this town waiting for the next ferry.
That 6 hours turned out to be an education into the philosophy and practice of ‘dolce far niente’ (delicious idleness). An education in what can happen when you stay in one place and are open to what comes to you. An education into a different view of life. Our teachers: a group of friends whose lives, by their own admission revolved around their respective homes, workplaces and this cafe and who welcomed us into their day with openness and acceptance, without agenda or even curiosity about who we were.
They were in no rush to do anything or to be anywhere. Time was to be passed together. It wasn’t about being on one’s iPad or phone or drinking, it was about being in each other’s company, witnessing the movements of the town, greeting and chatting: the group expanding and contracting with each coming and going. There was no need for facebook, twitter or linked-in. This was all happening live; friendships nurtured, connections strengthened, information exchanged and deals made.
So it wasn’t just the sublime mozzarella di bufala they shared, or the freshly whipped gelato al pistachio that did it. With every passing moment, overcoming the impatience to move on and settling into their pace and rhythm, I could see my friend un-wind before my very eyes: basking in their generosity, warmth and ease.
“Two days with us and you will forget all your troubles” they said.
I believe them.
In fact, the next stressed out executive or disillusioned seeker I come across, I am going to recommend that they have a Friday in Formia.
Images: own (Top image=Ventotene; Bottom image = Formia)