It’s Week 7, and officially past the halfway point! Until now, I had no idea it was possible for time to pass so quickly. As I consider the few short weeks we have left here, I find myself asking where time has gone, but also even more importantly – what have I learned and what have I yet to accomplish? I took some time to self-reflect today, and remember the two major goals that I had set for myself in coming here from the very beginning. For the sake of accountability, I’ll share them with you here:
1.) Living “fully alive”
This is where having minimal phone service comes in handy! For me, this means opening my eyes and all my senses to fully experience each moment as it comes. These moments have been big, small, or anything in between – taking a full minute of stillness to stand like a child in awe under the dome of the Pantheon, or simply to smell a handful of wild lavender that grows on the sidewalk on the way to our neighboring town Genzano. It looks like allowing myself to be vulnerable even in the midst of swarming crowds of tourists (it’s still okay to cry in the Sistine Chapel!). Even though “stopping to smell the roses” (literally and figuratively) might sometimes mean I’m bringing up the rear of our tour group, I can honestly say that it’s been worth it – every time!
2.) Living into grander purpose
Throughout the summer, this goal for me has admittedly been the most challenging, but also the one whose challenge I consider the worthiest of pursuing. On a trip like this where every-day routine can quickly become extraordinary (think: spending class days painting frescos with a man who restores Michelangelo sculptures for a living), it can often become easy to ignore life that occurs beyond my own personal sphere. However, even during my most exciting chapters, it’s my desire to also acknowledge life’s larger course that continues to persist around me and even sometimes in spite of me. What does this look like? Looking for ways to be loving and helpful in my new “home country.” Forgiving small mishaps for the larger sake of being grateful. Staying in touch with family, while also pursuing the development of new relationships with those I’ve met here. This goal drives me toward loving fully, listening intently, and learning outside of my comfort zone.
At Week 7, how am I doing? Unfortunately, I am all too human, and there have definitely been several days where its simply been easier to succumb to the powers of exhaustion and irritability. However, through the presence of struggle, I can already sense an even greater amount of growth, improvement, and possibility. Although the idea of the “downward slope” sadly reminds me of how little time I have left in this beautiful country, the opportunities in the weeks to come excite me even more!
As I challenge myself during our remaining time in Italy to live according my true self and purpose, I am reminded of a street musician in Rome whom I shared a short conversation with during one of our first weeks here. Even now, his words remain with me and still ring true: “my life has been difficult, but I have my lived my life for the heart… without heart, it’s nothing.” In these final weeks, I hope to carry his joy with me as I go!