Dolce Far Niente

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

It’s true. Many Americans seem to think that they have to be doing something to have fun. Engaging in some form of physical activity is fun. Absolutely! The belief that if you’re not doing “fun” things a certain percentage of the time then you can’t be happy or fulfilled is rubbish, though.

Remember when Ferris called Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day off? After hanging up, Cameron moaned, “I’m dying.” The phone rang again and it was Ferris to say, “Your’re not dying. You just can’t think of anything good to do.” Here it is (custom made by my husband)…

Why do we feel like that? Why do we think that if we can’t think of something “good” to do, then we’ll be miserable and bored? Is relaxing on a day off not good?

The clip from Eat Pray Love explains it perfectly. We often confuse fun with pleasure. We don’t have to be laughing or doing some physical activity to find pleasure. I find pleasure in being lazy, even when I do get out of the house. For instance, going to the mall and just walking around or even sitting (people watching) is enjoyable to me. I don’t need to have a purpose to go to the mall – nothing in mind to buy, and no mindless spending necessary.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what the difference is. I can be lazy at home surfing the internet, reading, writing, or just watching TV, or I can be lazy at a state park. The surroundings are different, but the end result is the same. I get absolutely nothing accomplished.

I am guilty of the accusation in this movie clip. While I don’t feel time is wasted if I’m not having fun in the sense described in the clip, I feel it’s wasted if I’m not productive in some way. Spending an entire day watching TV is relaxing for sure, but I do feel guilty at the end of the day because I didn’t get anything accomplished.

Tangent alert… Some may see making jewelry as boring and unproductive, but that would be productive to me because there is an end result. Moreover, it exercises my creativity. The problem is that I don’t do it frequently enough to keep the creative juices flowing. I haven’t made anything since before Christmas. BEFORE CHRISTMAS! That’s a long time! It’s hard to just sit down and create something. The ideas just don’t come to me, and I sit there feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in front of me. I start an idea and scrap it over and over because it’s not unique enough. But I digress… end of tangent.

Does it make me an old fart because I no longer feel a desire to be out in a crowd cuttin’ it up to have a good time that often? If so, then I’m fine with that because I am having a good time doing more relaxing (aka: lazy) things. My brain is still active. That’s good enough for me! Pleasure.

Dolce far niente!

What Exactly is Happiness?

I think it’s a misconception to think that to be happy, you have to be bursting with the emotion with a life full of laughter at every turn. People (and I think especially Americans) are always searching for happiness and often not quite feeling like they’ve found it or can maintain it. Consider Galatians 5:22-26 (Contemporary English Version):

22God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, 23gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. 24And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. 25God’s Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit. 26But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are.

Is it not possible to consider happiness found when living this way? Being content in the moment and not always looking for something more can equate to happiness. When we learn to be truly grateful for what we do have, then we can find pure joy in simply being!

I also like this quote from the movie “Eat Pray Love”:

You want to know how to be here?  Stop constantly waiting for something.

I’m content when I’m being creative. Photography, making jewelry, and even writing are all creative outlets for me. I’m content to sit and read. I’m content watching a movie or TV show. I’m content playing old-fashioned board or card games. I’m content walking around and exploring or even just sitting at a park. I’m not a high-energy person, so these things appeal to me but may seem boring to others.

When are you content?

Movie Obsessions

There are few movies I can watch over and over. Two such movies, if you haven’t already figured out, are Julie & Julia and The Devil Wears Prada. A recent addition to this movie obsession is Eat Pray Love. I recently discovered something similar about these movies. No, not that Meryl Streep is in two of them. Each of these movies is based on the lives of real people. I haven’t read any of the books, but I did find the actual blog by Julie Powell, The Julie/Julia Project … Nobody here but us servantless American cooks…, which I have vowed to finish reading by the end of my vacation. So 365 days worth of working her way through Julia’s cookbook to read in nine days. I should be done well before then because I’ve found that she didn’t blog every single day, making it easy to read through two or three months worth per day.

So far, I’ve learned several things that were changed and even omitted. The date Julie began the project is off by over a week. Why? Who knows!  Julie and Eric moved to their new apartment after she started the project. Julie had a pet snake, ZuZu, who like to sleep in a boot. The orange tabby cat in the movie? Nope! It was a gray, long-haired cat in reality. Also, the apartment was over a Greek restaurant – not a pizza place. Why does this intrigue me so much? It’s like reading a piece of fiction, but it’s really someone’s life. It’s also a revelation about French cooking. Savory but oh so unhealthy! I think if I were to take on such a project, I would choose a Mediterranean cookbook. Not that I need another project!

Eat Pray Love | The Movie

The first movie with Julie Roberts that Greg and I saw together was Mystic Pizza. He willingly went with me tonight to see Eat Pray Love and actually enjoyed it. Although many movie critics and nearly half of movie-goers so far haven’t given it great reviews, I liked it. I didn’t love it as much as I love many other movies, but it was enjoyable.

People are calling the main character (Elizabeth Gilbert in real life) selfish or self-indulgent. One reviewer called it “a rich woman’s fantasy”. I say, good for her for finally taking time to step away from relationships. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone woman, but it worked for Gilbert and for her situation.

Some are saying that the book only gained popularity from being one of Oprah’s choices for her book club. Alright. And the problem with that is…? Let it be!

This was a fairly entertaining movie based on a true story that, if you look beneath the surface, makes you think. Some may think they need to follow the same path Gilbert followed in order to “find themselves”. While the travel and experience may be intriguing, I don’t believe it needs to come to that for most people.

What I saw was a woman who has probably been fearful for her whole adult life and a little before that even. Lost and confused about what she really wanted out of life, she left the life she knew behind to go figure that out. It seemed to me that she could have been suffering from anxiety and maybe even depression. So instead of turning to Prozac (or whatever designer coping drug was popular at the time), she took a journey. On that journey, she found love again.

Personally, I don’t understand getting so lost that you have no idea what you want – that you don’t know if what you have is what you want. The fact that we have in the first place makes us very fortunate people. We have so many choices in life – far more than so many other people less fortunate than we are. In fact, I sometimes think we have too many choices. That’s enough to confuse anyone!

There was one part in the movie where a guy in Italy talked about Americans knowing how to have fun but not knowing how to take pleasure in that. That is right on! How many times have you been at a social gathering (a party, if you will), and in the middle of laughing and having a good time, your thoughts turn to a pressing deadline or some obligation the next day or later in the week? Guilty? I know I am!

I say, if you lighten up a little, you can find pleasure in so many things in life – not just at parties or on vacation. Though some people are tense all through vacations even (sad). I’m talking about every single day here and not only certain occasions that stand out to you as “meaningful”. Every moment is meaningful in some way. Anyone who doesn’t see that needs to take a step back and look for it. It really is there.

So, no, the movie wasn’t a huge revelation to me. I don’t find myself longing to follow in Gilbert’s footsteps. I did find her journey interesting and enlightening. The movie was entertaining! As always, Julie Roberts was enchanting in her role. So don’t take the movie critics’ reviews as the be-all/end-all decision maker for you. Watch the movie and make your own decision whether or not it was a good movie! I give it a thumbs up and a smile.