Monday, September 10, 2012

Mindful reminders

"Rome is a beautiful city".

With those words, peace activist, poet and scholar Thich Nhat Hanh brought a smile to many faces, at a public gathering in the eternal city this week, helping us to remember how fortunate we are to live in such a special place.

How is it possible to suffer, when one lives in a city as beautiful as Rome? posed the little man with a big presence and huge heart.

Even in this period of economic and political difficulty, we can always find happiness he encouraged.  Having 4 pieces of work cancelled recently, his words were well-received on my own ears.

He spoke of the art of mindful living, reminding us that peace is to be found in the present, not in the past or in the future. 

He suggested that the city leaders create a gathering, to sit together and look deeply within themselves, in order to access compassion, joy and freedom.

At that point, the audience could not help but let out a cynical giggle: “pigs might fly” or rather its Italian equivalent, "gli asino volano”  (where the donkey's may do the flying) spring to mind.

Why is it that we find such a proposition unlikely? Why can’t we imagine our leaders, whether in our cities or in our organisations, creating space for such inquiry to happen?  Connecting to one of my previous posts, such an opportunity can help right decisions and actions to emerge.

As he reminded us, world peace starts with peace within ourselves. We must start by doing our own internal discovery.

Similarly as another famous peace activist, Mahatma Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world”.
I celebrate 3 years of being in Roma today – it is true it has been one of the most challenging periods of my life and yet not a day goes by that I am not grateful for being here. Looking forward to lunch with my friend, who has just been on the retreat with the revered peace activist himself.

  • Image: sourced from via google images. 
  • Thank you to all those who have helped, supported and taught me during my first three years of being in this magical place, particularly Peter who celebrates his birthday today.


  1. As an emigrant I tend to forget Italy's problems, perhaps because I gave up my will to fight against that great fog [ ] many years ago, however I'm always happy to know there are people willing to improve the current situation and drawing inspiration from the eternal city!

    Btw: congratulation for your 3 years anniversary!

  2. Foggy politics..but skies?! Eternally optimist in the eternal city (for now). Perhaps when I become to understand it, I will leave too ;) Grazie per gli auguri Guido