The Dream was always running ahead of me, to catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.
– anais nin
Was does it mean to live in unison with a moment?
Once upon a time, there was a group of American travelers on safari to Africa. Armed with maps and timetables, they hired some locals to carry their supplies and accompany them on the trek. After three days of waking up early, traveling fast and far, the locals refused to move. They sat under shady trees well into the morning. The disbelieving Americans exclaimed: “What’s going on? This is a waste of valuable time!” The translator replied, “They are waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.”
When I was first starting my journeys to Italy and dreaming of a book that was still years away from being written, I wrote this: “One of the things I love about Italy is that time here seems to last as long as I will it to last.”
While moments are fleeting, there is an eternal aspect to them if we are willing to be still and be fully present.
“If you miss the moment, you miss your life.” – John Daido Loori
I am an observer. I enjoy sitting on a bench, the steps of a church, the edge of a fountain in the piazza. I love to feel the Italian sun on my face, close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me and when I open my eyes, take in what’s passing by me.
So often, I see people engaged with cell phones. They are taking photos of themselves in front of fabulous and famous works of art or gelaterias. They are looking at Trip Advisor to find out where to go for lunch or shop. They are texting their friends and posting stuff on Instagram.
Instagram might convey the sense of capturing this very moment, but that is not exactly true. Doing something in the moment is not the same as being in the moment.
I take a lot of photos on my trips to share the beauty of Italy with you. Under the banner of “marketing,” it is the only way to show what experiences await the person who decides to travel there.
A plate or bowl of beautiful pasta or figs or bread, presented as only the Italians do a tavola beg me to “shoot” them. The last moments of a sunset so glorious and pink call me to capture it because every sunset over the Arno in Florence is unique and I want to remember it always.
It’s hard to resist the pull of capturing a photo when one is in as stunning a place as Tuscany. The beauty is endless.
Sometimes though and more and more often, I find that I do resist. And when I do, I am rewarded with something far more memorable than a photo to look at later. When my senses are fully engaged during a moment of witnessing beauty, it gives me eternity.
For those moments, I not only see beauty, but I can hear it, smell it, taste it. When I recall it later, the imprint of the scene transcends looking at a photo because I can also remember how I was feeling at that moment. I can recall the laughter I heard around me that made me smile. Or I remember the sublime taste of the pistacchio gelato I had just finished, the salt still on my lips. I remember how very grateful I felt to be alive just then. My soul has caught up with me and we are in awe.
“Kiss the Joy as it Flies.” - William Blake
Very good advice. See what happens the next time you venture to a new place and leave your phone behind. You won’t miss anything.
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