It’s the 28th of December and our family has made the executive decision that we need a rest. A complete rest from everything and anything we think may interfere with resting. Don’t get me wrong, there is quite a flurry of activity happening around the house, but none of us believe we are actually doing something. You see, il dolce far niente (Italian for “the sweetness of doing nothing”) is just great. The key is not to do nothing – that would be crazy! – but to choose the things that work for you. It’s the “me” in down time; the “I” in chilling; the “ego” in leave me alone. It’s not easy to make it work for a family of 4 separate and disparate individuals. Do you want to be part of it, family member? Well, make sure your activity of choice doesn’t create any work for others around you – a simple and yet challenging unwritten rule of Family Rest Day. We are a closely knit unit and the interdependencies are substantial. Hence the planning and consensus that this day is rest day, full stop.
I’ll draw an example. It’s 11 am and, still in my pj, I have already watched a DVD with my daughter (The Borrowers – great film and great book). My son is still in bed reading the latest instalment of the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson books. Oh no, I beg your pardon, he’s rolled out of bed to go and look for a friend who lives over the road. My husband has been happily browsing the “1001 records you must listen to before you die” (my present, thank you very much), counting how many of his own albums feature in the book. All in all a properly restful morning. Naturally I’ve found the time to soak a lovely black glass jar in hot water to get rid of its ugly label, vigorously boiled a pan of kidney beans for 10 minutes and transferred the distressed pulses to the slow cooker and then lazily descended on the sofa to do a little bit of something whilst…doing nothing.
It looks like the art of doing nothing is made of a lot of small somethings.
Have you got a family rest day? Are you a believer in the dolce far niente?
As always yours,
You may find Diane Hales’ blog on Italian culture and language of interest. She’s nailed the “dolce far niente” ever so gracefully in one of her articles. Here is her blog address for your perusal.