Dolce far niente

Dolce far niente, the Italian idiom for enjoying idleness, is usually lost by me. I usually cock my head to one side and wonder at the fact that they actually like to do nothing. NOTHING????? “Joy of work” is more along the lines of my motto. Like a Hindu god with multiple arms, I was a born multitasker. This hyperactivity and productivity has caused me to be an obsessive-compulsive planner who literally can’t handle sitting and doing nothing. Unfortunately, with that comes the completely inability to relax and let go. While this is one of those mental blocks that I have been trying to overcome at this program, it has been so easy to continue with my over-achieving ways: staying up at all hours practicing poses and studying the massive amounts of information we are all trying to digest. However, today I was forced to confront that mental hurdle full-force as our instructor gave us our most difficult homework yet: to not do anything. To have fun. To be silly. To get out of the studio and not study at all. While the other students celebrated, I cringed in fear. Take a day off, you say? Don’t think about the practice? Don’t worry about the next “test”? I almost felt like she was looking at me when she gave this task. I woke up late, having slept in and felt as if I should have attended class in the morning. I went out to explore the town, and felt as if I should have been reading my yoga books. I came back to the residence halls and wanted to work on my personal practice. Constantly my fellow students had to physically keep me from working. They’d look me in the eye, seeing my crazy mind spinning faster, and tell me to stay in the present. As the day drew to a close and the guilt of a “day wasted” increased exponentially, I had to stop and wonder what it is that drives me to a life of constant motion. Why must I work so hard, yet always feel like I’m getting nowhere? Why am I so afraid to sit still and just be? Is it that I am afraid of what my brain will think of when it stops being distracted by work? Is that why meditation is so difficult for me? When you become the sum of your work and you stop working, you are left trying to figure out who you really are. Maybe I just need a new definition of productivity. Is it making money? If so, all of my work as a singer wouldn’t really be considered productive. They’d actually be counterproductive. Is it logging hours of labor on a time sheet? If so, then none of my years of training would be productive by any account. Is it exhausting yourself? If so, then I’ve definitely been productive all of my life. Maybe productivity can just come to mean living: being in your life at every moment. Being present. Thinking about the here and now and doing the work to be done, but then just letting it go. With this definition, I’ve been more productive these past two weeks than in all my years on this earth…. Evening without making a dollar or logging a single hour of labor. Maybe dolce far niente isn’t so impossible after all.

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