The beauty of doing nothing
Published: Monday, March 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2012 15:07
Anyone who is familiar with the 2010 film Eat, Pray, Love, or, better yet, has read Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel which the movie is based on, will recognize the Italian saying, “Bel far niente”. Translated, this expression means “the beauty of doing nothing”. These are the words that Gilbert learns during her time spent in Italy, where she quickly realizes that simplicity is a valued way of life that the rest of us all too often ignore or don’t allow ourselves.
As students, professors, employees and all together preoccupied individuals, the mere thought of “doing nothing” seems impractical or like a far-fetched notion. Face it, we easily become engrossed in anything and everything that surrounds us. Our weeks are scheduled, our weekends are often pre-determined, and we systematically go about our days without even thinking about it anymore.
This is our reality, which is why the meaning behind something like “bel far niente” is such a foreign concept to us, just as it is to Gilbert in the beginning of her travels. How do you do nothing? How can you afford to do nothing? How long are you supposed to do nothing for? Well, there is the first mistake – questioning the concept itself. This is what we have become, over-analyzers of great sorts, and this is the distinction Gilbert is able to make between our society and culture and that of the Europeans she encounters and admires.
For the past seven months, students have been living according to their schedules, spending the majority of their “free time” working on assignments, turning out essays, abiding by deadlines and occasionally factoring in a night out here and there. When March and April roll around, however, there is an undeniable change that occurs, in not only the weather, but in most of us as well.
“At this time of year every school year, I can’t help but suffer from severe tunnel vision. All I see is summer and the nothingness that I will be engaging in. It’s motivating, it’s calming, it’s bliss,” said third-year student Brittany Forcucci.
By “nothing(ness)” we do not actually mean nothing, but rather downtime that is used to relax and enjoy ourselves, and the closer we get to summertime, the closer we also come to a “ben far niente” lifestyle.
In the recent weeks, perhaps you have found yourself taking the long route to class just so that you can walk outside, or maybe you and some friends spent an afternoon in the sun in Jubilee Court, playing Frisbee or hanging out. This is because at this time of year, despite the stress of exams looming, it becomes so easy to stop worrying for once, simply enjoying the beauty that is all around us.
Last week, students took advantage of the spring weather by spending their time outside, reading, listening to music, talking and laughing. Aside from physically removing themselves from inside of the school setting, they appeared to be removed from anxieties and stress as well. It was a wonderful and uplifting sight. Passing by them on the way to class, only one thing came to mind, “bel far niente”. Have a lovely summer.