Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

“Live in the moment”, “Take it all in, ” they said. “Do not let this life abroad pass you by”, “Make the most of the time you have been given.” The words of graduated students, retired travelers, and overcommitted adults bounced around my head as I prepared to embark on what we all knew would be an unforgettable three months. I was filled with certainty that these twelve weeks would be nothing short of incredible, but as I continued to receive these overused words of advice from nostalgic hearts only one thought kept reverberating in my mind: How?? How does one truly make a single moment in time last as long as possible?

The short answer: Italy.

From what I have tasted, seen, and experienced, Italians have perfected the art of living simply in order to fully live. The accomplishments and rich cultural presence they bring to the world comes from a long lineage of appreciating the air they breathe, the food they share, and fully engaging with the world around them. In America I get the sense that the busier we are, the more things we can check off a list, the more relevant, important, and meaningful we feel. If we measure our sense of success as a race against the clock to see how many errands we can squeeze into our morning before an 11:30 dentist appointment, or by slaving away all hours of the week with minimum sleep and maximum caffeine in hopes of getting the upcoming promotion, then when are we going to allow ourselves the liberty of a full, joyful life? This is not to say that daily chores and hard work are evildoers, but it’s a dangerous thing to let what you do consume and control who you are.

Since I have been here life has felt so exhilarating, pleasant, and surreal that it is as if I am dreaming. And yet, in this dream I feel more alive than ever. The colors seem more alive, the people more passionate, and the importance or dependence on time almost irrelevant. I have loved this change in perspective and know that it has almost become a part of who I am and who I will be as I return to the life I left at home. I have learned that in order to fully live in the present, one must be able to accept that each second they breathe, each moment that passes by becomes a part of their growing and evolving self. This idea gives me comfort because through it I am reassured that each gelato I have eaten, each wine I have tasted, every sunset I have witnessed, every lake I have marveled at, all of it has become a part of who I am.


Frances Oglesby

Lake Geneva, Lausanne

Lake Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland