il dolce far niente

I learnt the phrase from “Eat, Pray, Love”. It’s the wonderful art of doing nothing at all, literally “sweet doing nothing”, or as my mate Tom is fond of saying, “sweet f.a.”, and it’s something I’ve never been very good at.

But on occasion, I truly have a day with nothing to do…and am rarely OK with that. I feel like it’s a waste of time – of which we seem to have very little. And of those rare occasions, there are rarer still: where I manage to actually enjoy the sweet art of doing nothing.

Today, I wandered around the city. For hours. Just walking up and down the highstreets, the alleyways, the market lanes, the passageways, the cobbled paths, the smooth tarmacked roads. I paused at cafes, on park benches, at the corner of streets to listen to buskers, and at each little interval, I wrote down some random thoughts formulating in my head. I ended my meanderings in Bonn Square, soaking the sun as it passed overhead, and waited ’til it dipped behind the Oxford skyline.

I came to be there by following the wind (Pocahontas eat your heart out), which is a great way to explore a city, I find. And every time I went to go home, it seemed to be unwilling to let me leave just yet. So I found myself there, writing and striving over the last few lines of the day. I met an Italian girl, Francesca, which seemed fitting, given the ‘dolce far niente’. And that was my day. And I’m OK with it.

My night before, however, saw some old demons coming back to me. I debated the existence of God with a friend (as you do), and argued my position of “god in everything” (which I won’t bore you with now), only then to completely freak myself out by assuming no kind of afterlife or consciousness once this life is through. But we continued the discussion, and though I then proceeded to cultivate a spectacular kind of denial, just so I may sleep at night, I feel better for it.

It is due to the nature of last night’s discussions, and my wanderings around the city today, that these thoughts came to be. Just by way of background. Should you have wished to know…

Is there any greater liberty than knowing the choice you want to make,
and then making it?

Perhaps in close contention is the stumbling upon a paralysing fear,
only to quieten it all with a conclusive and calm resolve.

And I sit here not in the absence of action,
but seek to craft and whittle and taper
the wooden block that keeps pen from paper,
and I from satisfaction.

Inspire and goad me from resignation,
unshackle the apathy that binds animation,
and I dare you to find me for a moment retired
’til this writing is worthy of being desired,
a reason discovered, and a purpose acquired.

The meaning of life is to experience living,
so surrender your heart to the art of its giving.


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