Vacation. Most dictionaries define it as “leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure”. Very true, right? As I sit here in my apartment in Italy, I can see numerous Americans walking by with their maps, enjoying the grandiosity of the Duomo while indulging in a heaping cone of gelato. The sad part is…why do we have to have to specify that pleasure has to be away from work? I don’t mean that everyday at work should be a vacation, of course, though that would be nothing short of fantastic. I mean that while I’m sitting here watching these people then looking at the milieu around them, there’s a huge clash of cultures. Even on vacation, Americans are revolving around schedules and time tables, getting up early just to rush from place to place. When you turn to the Italians you see the complete opposite. No one is ever anxiously rushing to get anywhere. Naturally, Americans see this extra time it takes to get places or get something done wasted time. Think of all you could do with those wasted 5 minutes! Wasted? Ha! To the Italians this is leisure time! They aren’t always so tense and uptight, worried about what comes next- they actually enjoy their bike ride to work, they enjoy spending an extra 20 minutes baking to make the pastry just right. The Italian culture got it right. They maintain this laid back lifestyle where they keep what really matters in perspective. Getting up early to go to work? I don’t think so. If you ever an Italian store open before 9am, that’d be the day. Italians enjoy EVERY day to the fullest. They take time to themselves, they are always surrounded by friends, they actually take the time to sit down with their friends and family ENJOY their meals with a nice glass of wine (and if you haven’t noticed, dinners in Italy are quite the production- antipasti, primi piatti, secondi piatti, dolce, lemoncello….). So why aren’t Americans more like this? Perhaps on your next vacation to Italy you can learn a little something from the Italians- you don’t have to pencil in 14 days every year for your own “pleasure time”. All you have to do is take the time to notice those small things that give you pleasure in your everyday life and embrace them.
And I promise you, it’ll add up to more than 14 days worth.