The Life Experiment

22 May

Today’s article “The three-day weekend – a dream deferred” in the Globe and Mail inspired me to stop and write, even before my little stovetop espresso maker was steaming my morning 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 live.

I have always been passionate about whatever I am doing for a living. For me, that’s a requirement. And I’ve been fortunate to work in industries and for companies that have been inspiring – international education, interactive advertising, intercultural training, environment, and wellness.  But too often in the past I’ve found myself pathologically overcommitted to professional obligations; unable to balance my desire to achieve and perform professionally with my desire to have a full, rich life. Does that resonate with anyone else?

In 2005, as my marriage was collapsing for the final time, I determined that I would seek to learn how I had contributed to its failure.  It dawned on me that by allocating 60 – 70 hours a week to an (albeit challenging and rewarding) job was a superb way to abdicate my responsibilities in the marriage. At work, I always received accolades, and my ever-Herculean efforts were duly appreciated. My job, no matter how stressful or grinding, was my stable fortress – as opposed to my unpredictable situation at home.  But in reality, the office was my escape from taking responsibility for my own happiness and joy in my personal life. Endless deadlines and demands and accountabilities provided the Novocain that let me put my emotional and physical health on a back burner.

Flash forward to now. I’ve just packed my bags and moved to Rome. I’ve chosen to walk away from logical and predictable business and career options in Canada to a (career-wise) uncertain future in economically-depressed Italy. People that I meet always assume that I’ve moved to Rome for work, and are shocked and then perhaps delighted when I tell them the real reason why I’ve moved – “per amore.” Who does that?  Who moves, without a safety net, to the other side of the world, for love? I did, so I could be with my soulmate Alessandro, and so we could both stay close to his children.  We have come to realize that this is what matters, to us.

Via Dell Amore

Some people are driven by a need for security – both in their financial situation, and in their relationships.  I can understand and honour that, but security is not what inspires my life.  Many people tell me they are jealous of my new life in Italy.  Trust me, I don’t have a monopoly on the ability to follow my dreams – we can all do it, if we are willing to let go of the limitations that prevent us living a life that is truly inspiring.  It takes courage and an immeasurable degree of trust in the outcome. And, importantly, the ability to weather the vocal opinions of those in your life who are terrified when you reject the status quo.

Over the last 5 years I’ve uncovered a rich and joyful personal life that continues to deepen and grow. So my experiment is this: how to live this adventurous life, and this beautiful love in Italy; to learn to speak Italian, to become a close friend in Alessandro’s children’s live, and explore the magic of Italy.  At the same time, engaging in meaningful and rewarding work that doesn’t become a cancer, swallowing what is truly precious in my life. I suppose that this is what this blog is really about – to reflect upon, and share the outcome of that experiment.

Bravo Michael Posner, for such an audacious idea.

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6 Responses to “The Life Experiment”

  1. Francisca May 22, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Good to see you following your bliss, Carla. It’s never too late, is it? It amuses me how so many have elevated “work” in and of itself into a virtue. Sad, really. Throw out the rules and be free, say I. After a short stint at a job that stressed me totally nearly 30 years ago, I swore I’d never work again for something I hated to get up for in the morning. Balance still eludes me at times, but on the whole my priorities have been clear; many are the same you mention. My bank account may not be rich, but my life is. Go for it all, Carla. 🙂

  2. Valerie Bell May 24, 2011 at 12:10 am #

    I think its time to dig out that 4 hour work week again and find something that resonates for Rome. Thanks for the recommendation. I loved it! When i read your post on the Globe’s article I could see how the two go together and would definitely fit your lifestyle and hopefully my future one.

    • A Life in Rome... May 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      Even better if we can do something together again, Valerie! 😉

  3. Wahine Michelle May 24, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    Awesome, Carla! I relate to what you are saying. About up-and-going and following your dreams. Anyone can do it. I get the ‘you’re lucky’ from people quite often, especially when I moved to Hawaii. Truth is, it was a choice, it was a check off my bucket list, anyone could have and can do it! You are such a talent with the pen! This is all basis for your screenplay, of which I’d like to be director of photography. I remember walking with Alessandro in Rome in Oct ’09, asking him how you met. He instantly called you so I could hear it from you. I envisioned a film when you got to the part of riding on the back of a Vespa (or was it the Smart Car?) after a looong night. Yeah! And the story grows. So glad you are documenting it, and letting us in on the shenanigans!

    • A Life in Rome... May 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

      Michelle, la mia bella – you can be the director of anything you want on my screenplay!! 🙂

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