Il bel far niente

In Italy they have a saying, “Il bel far niente,” it means “The beauty of doing nothing.”

What a lovely country that must be. I can quite easily see myself fitting into a society that sees beauty in doing nothing, as that has always been my goal . . . to get to the point where I can sit on my butt doing nothing more than just thinking and enjoying myself.

I used to tell my mom when she would call and ask, “what are you doing today?”

“Nothing mom, today’s a do-nothing day.”

“What? Jimmy I worry about you!”

She always got a good chuckle out of my do-nothing days because who in America can say with a straight face that they are having a do-nothing day? In America you must be busy. You must be doing something or you are deemed lazy and unimportant.

In America a slacker gets absolutely no respect, he might as well be a skid row bum. “Doing nothing? What are you crazy? Get busy doing something for Christ’s sake. Idle hands are the devils playground!” Well, I believe if a guy took the time to actually think about that statement he would see for himself how many holes there actually were in the ‘busy bucket’.

So, what is a do-nothing day anyways?

Well in Italy I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet in every country on this planet, the meaning is pretty much the same. It is simply just doing nothing. No work. No travel. No outside entertainment. Nothing but simply ‘being’ in the moment. Maybe sleeping . . . eating . . . having sex . . . or something like that or maybe just sitting on a chair in the sun thinking beautiful thoughts. Actually I’ve done all these things on my do-nothing days. The only solid rule to a do-nothing day that I can think of, is to enjoy yourself doing what YOU want to do.

In Italy I can visualize a guy sitting along a boulevard somewhere at a table in front of a quaint restaurant enjoying a cup of cappuccino while watching the beautiful Italian women walking by.

In America it’s really hard to find a quaint cafe, let alone one that has a nice outside dining area lining the sidewalks like they do in Europe. In America it’s all cars and the stink of exhaust. Here we are in way too much of a hurry to take a leisure cup of coffee anywhere. Besides, coffee drinkers take up too much valuable eating space. “If you are not going to eat, drink up and get the hell out . . . MOVE dammit! We have paying customers in line waiting for your table!

So, in America, it’s probably a good idea to take your do-nothing day either at home or walking in the woods somewhere. If you go to the Mall you should at least be walking somewhere, because well, this country just isn’t set up for doing nothing. It’s considered sin to be idle. People take one look at you sitting there enjoying yourself, all by yourself, and immediately they think, what a lazy man he is, sitting there all alone doing nothing.

A professional do-nothinger knows this going in, so he either creates an attitude that tells the world to go pound nails or he pretends that he’s really quite busy and just on a break. He’ll do little things like glance at his watch with much flare or look around as if he is waiting for someone, or nosily drum his fingers upon the table top.

That’s another thing in America, you are really not supposed to be sitting at a table in a restaurant all alone, especially if you are a woman. You are supposed to be with others, laughing and telling jokes or having a power lunch of some sort. Just sitting there by yourself? Sad.

It’s pitiful as well for others to see a man sitting there all alone, especially if he gets caught eying the girls (something quite expected in Italy) Shame on you, you lazy, laggard pervert, no wonder you have no friends.

Regardless, since my new found knowledge, it’s now easier on my conscience to enjoy the beauty of the day doing nothing knowing there are a zillion Italians across the water doing the very same thing.

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