On my last morning in Naples, I try sfogliatelle. I sit outside at a cafe and eat the flaky pastry filled with sweet ricotta and orange peel. It’s delicious and they sell it at every coffee shop and corner store in the city!
There are two women sitting at the table next to me, smoking (everyone in Italy seems to smoke LOL). They are talking about…death. The brunette women keeps saying that any one of us could die tomorrow. The blonde woman has a heart condition. The brunette had her father die suddenly.
I drift off in my own thoughts, peeling each layer back on my sfogliatelle before I pop it into my mouth.
I think about how death is usually a taboo subject, especially at 10 in the morning. But I’ve found it useful, over the past few years, to think about death. Not to obsess about it, but to think about the undeniable fact that it will happen at some point. It helps to remember that I don’t get to control when or how I die, but I do get to control the quality of the life I live.
At times, of course, just the reality of life itself can seem difficult and confusing. Especially when I don’t know exactly where I’m headed or what’s going to happen when I get there. In the thick of it, I worry about so many catastrophes that never happen. Things that are not, actually, THE END OF THE WORLD.
I sit back in my chair at the cafe, enjoying the sun and watching Italian men greet each other on the street. They kiss each other – first one cheek, then the other. The gesture seems a mix of affection and respect. They are saying without saying: “Hello, my friend. I am happy to see you and I am glad to know you.” A warmer version of the dap-hug brothers give each other in the U.S.
Traveling alone in Europe over the past month has given me a lot of time to think about what’s coming up for me this fall/winter and into 2013. Back in the U.S., I have my family, the Pianist, and my ever-evolving yet always-rewarding work. Returning home after a long trip always begs the silent question: where to next?
But right now, I want to focus on enjoying what’s in front of me, taking advantage of opportunities to sit outside and drink a perfect cappuccino. To take a moment to kiss the people I love, to honor each numbered day I am given by God. To be grateful for another chance to wake up and appreciate just how incredible life is, especially considering the alternative.
I want to stop worrying about what will happen next and focus on what is happening right now.
In this way, I can better remember that every action, every thought, every connection is either leading me closer to OR further away from my ideal life. The good news is that I don’t have to worry about anything because I am LIVING my way into what’s next with each step I take.
What’s next for you? How are you balancing planning for the future with enjoying the moment?