Taking Time for Fresh Air

Italian Countryside

It’s okay – healthy even – to stop “doing” every once in a while and simply enjoy “being.” Sometimes our brain and body just need time to rest.

While hiking through Agliano, Italy, my husband and I marveled at the number of Italians simply sitting outside enjoying the fresh air. They were of all ages and we saw them at varying times of day. Inactivity has a tendency to make me feel uncomfortable, but these people seemed genuinely happy to be just relaxing in contemplation. They appeared calm, peaceful even.

To them, I probably appeared to be the exact opposite: fidgety, watchful, keyed-up and unsettled in my thought. I was taking it all in – the landscape, the culture, the architecture and the norms that were so unlike mine. But I also remember longing to feel that same sense of calm and peace.

As we climbed the winding road into the city, we met one gentleman who was sitting in the shade outside of a small church. He was alone when we first approached and we were surprised to find that he spoke a little English. We asked him a simple, one-word question that I’m certain he’d heard before from other American tourists, “Vino?” He chuckled before answering, “It’s too hot for that.” Indeed, it was high-noon and nearly 90 degrees. But that was beside the point.

He was eager to practice his English and went on to tell us that his life dream was to visit the United State before he dies. Not long after, a young boy, probably in his teens, approached us. He did not speak any English, but the gentleman told us that this boy was a talented culinary student at the university in town. I have no idea if they were related to one another, but I knew without a doubt they were related by community. It was heartwarming to hear this man proclaiming accolades about the boy to complete strangers, and also interesting that the boy had no idea what was being said about him.

The other thing that struck me is that there was nothing extravagant about this town. There were a couple of churches, a park, a school, a few restaurants, a few general shops, a grocery store and apartments. There were no parking lots, shopping malls, stoplights, lighted signs, car horns or people texting or shouting into cell phones. And yet the town had everything its residents “needed.”

For this man, life was pretty darn good without the luxuries of our modern consumer-driven society. What he had was enough. He had a happy heart and a sense of community. To be grateful is to love what you have…your enough.