Sunday, June 22, 2008

The beauty of doing nothing

This is a sweet expression. Bel far niente means "the beauty of doing nothing." Now listen--Italians have traditionally always been hard workers, especially those long-suffereing laborers known as braccianti (so called because they had nothing but the brute strength of their arms--braccie--to help them survive in this world). But even against that backdrop of hard work, bel far niente has always been a cherished Italian ideal. The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life's achievement. You don't necessarily need to be rich in order to experience this, either. There's another wonderful Italian expression: l'arte d'arrangiarsi--the art of making something out of nothing. The art of turning a few simple ingredients into a feast, or a few gathered friends into a festival. Anyone with a talent for happiness can do this, not only the rich.

From Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, published by Bloomsbury. Pg 64-65

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