Wednesday, July 12, 2006

life lessons

After a nice peaceful and pensive evening out with La Carly, La Mati, and La 'Rina, I thought I would do some reflecting of my own in the form of a blog post. Today marks my 31st day, the fifth week, that I have been here in Milan and I have learned so much about Italy, myself, and life. I think I've expounded enough on the Italian people so I'll jump into life reflection. Fasten your safety belts, I don't really know where I am going with this, but hell, that's life.

Venice started this whole mess, with its winding canals and unpredictable, unfamiliar streets. Making navigable grids in a city, creating familiarity, creating predictable routine, it's all boring and untrue to the nature of life. Stability, constancy, all nice but all untrustworthy. The fabric of everyday living is constant change, the weather fluctuates, your mood changes, you may not have hot water for a shower, you never know who you will bump into, the tasks at work keep changing as the world turns. I've realized that I have to become comfortable with the concept of constant change as the only stable element of life. And that's hard. Somehow, Venice taps into that ephemeral quality: slowly sinking, subject to the tides, floating fragily on the surface, winding, loss-inducing.

Last night for instance, the gang planned to meet at 10.45 which morphed into 11.10 and finally consummated at 11.30. We hadn't wanted to go back to Tijuana, our local watering hole it seems, but we ended up there anyways because it was close and good. In Italy, you're always late, it's the norm. But how late will you be? How long will you wait? Schedules may be nice, but rigid time tables are for losers. Sure you should seek to accomplish things and meet people, but structured minutes don't help anyone and relying on such an abstract concept of time serves no purpose. You're relying on something you lose all the time, that you can't hold, that you will never truly know save for the rising and setting of the sun.

About a year ago, when I was learning Italian, I struggled because I wanted to form sentences before I spoke. Thus, the going was slow, gramatically fastidious, a mouthful and a brainful. You can't predict conversation, can't understand ABSOLUTELY everything. As the pace quickened in the classroom, I learned to deal. Coming to Italy, I was immediately bombarded by language, conversation, accents and all things never taught in the classroom. I was learning at every moment of the day, hearing new conversations, attempting to express myself. You simply have to give up trying to translate your thoughts into Italian, things don't translate. As I discussed with Marina, things like 'dai!' for come on (literally give!) doesn't make sense in English and 'prego' used for letting someone pass, you're welcome and please just exists as is. Later when I nice breeze picked up, Carly proclaimed 'che brezza' to which Mati and'Rina started laughing because the word was awfully literary and was not the equivalent to breeze but to a powerful emotion that takes over your sentiments and being.

It has been a wild journey so far (che brezza, indeed), I've been bombarded with a tough job situation at first, constant linguistic obstacles, and lives continuing without me a home. To me, it's important to maintain ties to my family and friends, but what I have come to realize is that the abstract ties remain intact but the family and friends are everchanging. It is only in the abstract fabric of life that you can trust: your emotions, your sense of self, your independence, your ties. Just coming to that realization, I am so grateful for this trip. No souvenirs or clothing will solidify the experience for the rest of my life. Only my photos might inspire memories to float to the surface. In the end, I am the photoalbum of my journey of the last 4 weeks and the last 20 years... an evolving project, always in the works.


naila=) said...

i like reading your reflections stefan... and you're right about time schedules... sigh. it's still hot here! keep sharing your thoughts eh ;) love you!

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