I started a beginner’s Italian language class this week, and I am completely enamored.
Back in my university days, I studied a fair bit of Italian art, memorizing key painters, places, dates, techniques, and contexts. But though I loved the subject matter, my appreciation was somewhat detached and analytical. I was concerned more with possible slide exam questions than getting emotionally involved in the art. I didn’t get swept away in Italy, as others did. The relationship was strictly professional.
Since I didn’t want to work in a museum or teach (because hey, what else can art history majors do?), after graduating I eventually chose a career in administration. Years later, I find myself doing work that doesn’t resonate with my spirit, or remotely reflect all those beautiful things I once studied.
Underneath my 9-5 facade, my spirit has longed for creativity, art, and joy. But I have been suppressing this part of myself. Perhaps not intentionally, and not always consciously…but suppressing nonetheless. And until recently, things reached a point where I felt I had become, as I often put it, ‘a ticking time bomb’.
Sometime last fall I began to feel a pronounced sense of urgency to change certain aspects my life, intuiting that the consequences of not doing so would be far more serious than the general boredom and lack of vitality I had become so accustomed to. Having made the recent decision to leave my ‘secure’ job, the past few months have been marked by a growing awareness of my need to dream, imagine, and visualize what I actually want in this life.
And through this process, Italy has resurfaced. A little whisper inside has grown progressively louder. What if…what if I just go? How would it feel to soak up the art, the history, the food, the wine? How would it sound to be immersed in Italy’s music of passion and joie de vivre (ok, I know that’s French) and sing-songy accents and life?
Though my mind would really love to convince me that this is not practical or possible or feasible, I’m finding it hard to listen. The language has arrested me. I’m completely smitten, and there is no logic in this state.
I think about my art history days. Perhaps I never allowed myself to fall in love with the essence of Italy, because I could not access it within myself.
Italy represents what I have been deeply missing in my life, and what I’m ready to experience now…culture, art, beauty, history, pleasure, romance, vibrancy, abandon, amore, and passion.
My Italian class isn’t just about learning a new language. It is so much more. It is me saying yes to new possibilities, to doing something for the sheer fun and joy of it. It is the act of consciously allowing a dream to filter into my ‘real’ life in some (seemingly) small way. It is testing the dreaming waters, wondering…what might this open up for me?
I hear my own voice differently when I speak Italian. It’s full of laughter and joy. I smile the entire time. And this makes me perceive myself in a new light. In rediscovering Italy, in speaking her tongue, in engaging with her and taking delight in her, I am recovering the hidden gems within myself. And it is a true treasure trove indeed.