A few weeks ago, though it already feels like another life, I sat outside in the warm Italian sun with the cityscape of Florence before me. I was slowly getting sunburned (I didn’t know it then). The crackling cafe sound system played Peer Gynt Suite No.1, despite the fact that it was mid afternoon. I sipped a glass of verdicchio and felt pretty good about life.
I looked over to my right where a table of older women sat, sharing a bottle of wine and laughing. Suddenly, I envied them. I wished I was one of them. With all my heart, I hoped my future looks exactly like that. They seemed so relaxed, so comfortable, so free to enjoy themselves and each other’s company. In my mind, they were a book club, travelling to the city of their favourite novel. Maybe they’ve been best friends since they were teenagers. Maybe they’d sent their husbands on a tour for the day. Maybe they’d left them behind in America. Maybe they were married to each other, who knows, but to my eyes, they were utterly free to be themselves.
They were beyond feeling pressured to look a certain way or achieve life milestones. They had no desire to look around to see if anyone noticed or admired them. They weren’t taking selfies or posting their whereabouts and activities on Instagram. Of course, I know that’s all projection. They’re real women with real lives and struggles, but for one shining moment, these five strangers in Florence were free to be themselves, to sit in the spring sun, drink wine, discuss topics and make each other laugh.
There’s no reason I can’t have that life now. I don’t need to wait till my 60’s to stop comparing myself to society. I don’t need to chase the busy, distracted life of brunches, drinks, events and a casual network of ‘RSVP might go’ friendships. Five strangers made me question why everyone is always so busy? Why are we compelled to fill every moment and spend every dollar we earn in the process? Who said that was living?
I feel like I’ve been forever cramming in more and more and more and never feeling full. I was endlessly hungry for the reassurance that a busy life was a full life. It’s no wonder I suffered from anxiety and the sensation that I could never get enough air into my lungs.
This trip of mine let me step away from all that and give space to creativity. It exorcised the influence of busy. It’s been a detox, of sorts. Italy was my most favourite country for that reason. Italians get to things when they get to them. What’s the rush? They savour their coffees and conversations. They live in all their moments, not just in allocated ‘me time’.
So, on my return to Australia, I want to make my own home (for which I already pay unreasonable Melbourne rent) somewhere I want to spend time and invite others to. I want to create instead of consume. I want to ignore the relentless advertisements that make me feel like I never have enough, never am enough, always unworthy against unreal, airbrushed perfection. I want to curate my own experience. I want just a small handful of close, like-minded friends for whom I am never too busy.
And in twenty years’ time, I want to sit with those friends in the warm spring sun, share a bottle of wine and laugh and not give a damn what anyone else is doing or what they think.
Even with the heartbreaks and hits that will no doubt occur, life will be good, because we slowed down and made it that way.
The …physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. That is to say, it doesn’t have some destination that it ought to arrive at. Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance.