A Generous Gift

21 May

In the novel, “Eat, Pray, Love,” the characters establish the idea that every place’s essence can be summarized with a single word.  Rome’s word, they assert, is “sex.”  I’m not going to elaborate my opinion on that, other than to say I’ve moved to Rome to be with the love of my life, and allow you to draw your own conclusions.

However, after spending 3 days in the countryside around Siena, Tuscany; I propose “generosity” as the word that most aptly captures the essence of this beautiful region.

Perhaps it is the embarrassment of riches this region possesses: undulating hills overflowing with healthy produce; a dizzying succession of towns with musical names like Montepulciano and Pienza, each more captivating than the last; rustic tables laden with pecorino cheese, pastries, and sumptuous Brunello wines; or skies alternating between golden sun and fresh clouds…

But surely it is more than gorgeous scenery and exquisite food that creates an atmosphere of generosity, and here in a little town called Cuna I discovered the secret from a cheerful older man working at an unassuming roadside car wash.  While I got out of the car to investigate how to pay for and operate the wash, he came over; not only to patiently help me, but to chat.  Where was I from, where was I going, why did my boyfriend leave me alone in Italy while he was in the UK, and why don’t I move to Toscana instead of Rome.

As he cracked jokes and cheerfully chatted up my parents in Italian-style sign language, I thought that perhaps one of the most satisfying gifts of generosity comes in the form of someone’s time and attention.  Back in North America, the commodities of “time” and “attention” are at critically depleted supplies.  Every spare moment is full of another demand on our attention.  If not work and endless meetings, it’s a constant barrage of phone calls and text messages and emails. Not only to they consume our attention but the act of engaging with them serves as a barrier between here and how. As much as I adore my iphone, I recognize that it is engineered to seduce me to fill every moment with a temporary distraction.  

How rarely are we generous of our time, with others and ourselves! It’s a blessing to be in the Italian countryside where it doesn’t require 2 months and an advanced degree in logistics to connect with another human being.  Just putting aside the digital distractions, and meeting the eye of someone else.  Refusing to feel self-conscious of language barriers.  Trusting a smile to be a genuine invitation to share a moment. And why is it so easy to be reminded of this concept from a stranger? And for some reason, I feel that its no coincidence that the people of this area who have been so generous with their time and attention have managed to thrive in harmony with the natural beauty around them.

It’s a lesson to carry back and integrate with the people who share our lives every day: our lover, our parents, our siblings, and our communities.  Next: how to keep the lessons of the rolling hills of Tuscany when back in the chaos of Rome?  Stay tuned…


2 Responses to “A Generous Gift”

  1. Francisca May 22, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Nicely written, Dolce Carla. Time and Self have to me always been the most generous gifts… to give and to receive.


  1. The Life Experiment « Love & Luce - May 22, 2011

    […] caffe.  It resonated deeply; not only because it seemed a logical expansion of yesterday’s post (A Generous Gift); but also because it occurred to me that the article hints at an experiment that I have chosen to […]

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