In just a few days, I’m embarking upon a two-week vacation through Europe. It’s a much-needed trip that I’ve been anticipating for months. I’m an explorer, a history nerd, and a lover of architecture so of course, that side is covered. But what I’m most excited for is enjoying every minute of the present, each day I am away from everyday life.
There was a moment this past weekend where I felt myself getting caught up in a situation that could easily not have involved me. As I’m sitting there, trying to figure out if this was going to ruin my night, and should I quit while I’m ahead, I told myself to enjoy the present for what it is: being around fun friends who I truly love being around. Their problems are their problems – just do you. It was a powerful moment that made me realize so few people have this small, yet profound conversation with themselves, and I need to take advantage of it more often. To release yourself from external influences and be present is the most freeing thing you can do.
Later this same weekend, I came across a rather popular Facebook post about that Italian teacher’s “Summer Assignment”. It took the guess work out of how anyone and everyone should live their summer, regardless of what they do or where they are. Haven’t read it? Here’s the list of “to-do’s”:
1. Sometimes, in the morning, go take a walk along the seashore completely alone: look at the way sunlight is reflected on the water and think about the things you love the most in your life; be happy.
2. Try to use some of the new words we learned together this year: the more things you manage to say, the more things you’ll manage to think; and the more things you think, the freer you’ll be.
3. Read as much as you possibly can. But not because you have to. Read because summers inspire adventures and dreams, and when you read you’ll feel like swallows in flight. Read because it’s the best form of rebellion you have (for advice on what to read, come see me).
4. Avoid things, situations and people who make you feel negative or empty: seek out stimulating situations and the companionship of friends who enrich you, who understand you and appreciate you for who you are.
5. If you feel sad or afraid, don’t worry: summer, like every marvelous thing in life, can throw the soul into confusion. Try keeping a diary as a way to talk about how you feel (in September, if you’d like, we’ll read it together).
6. Dance, shamelessly. On a dance floor near your house, or alone in your room. Summer is dance, and it’s foolish not to take part.
7. At least once, watch the sunrise. Stay silent and breathe. Close your eyes, be thankful.
8. Play a lot of sports.
9. If you meet someone you find enchanting, tell him or her as sincerely and gracefully as you can. It doesn’t matter if she or he doesn’t understand. If they don’t, she or he wasn’t meant to be; otherwise, summer 2015 will be a golden time together (if this doesn’t work out, go back to point number 8).
10. Review your notes from our class: Compare the things we read and learned to the things that happen to you.
11. Be as happy as sunlight, as untamable as the sea.
12. Don’t swear. Always be well-mannered and kind.
13. Watch films with heartbreaking dialogue (in English if you can), in order to improve your language skills and your ability to dream. Don’t let the movie end with the final credits: live it again while you’re living and experiencing your summer.
14. In sparkling sunlight or hot summer nights, dream about how your life could and should be. During the summer, always do everything you can to avoid giving up, and everything you can to pursue your dream.
15. Be good.
What’s so great about this list is that it requires you to be unplugged, present, and appreciative of every moment you have of everyday. His list has inspired me to get up early, watch the sunrise from the sea, meditate, and give thanks to what I’ve been given in my life. It’s a chance for me to be inspired all over again.
Trips of a lifetime don’t come very often (although I’ve set a goal to take one, once a year), but through my travels, I’ve discovered more about who I am and what I want out of my own life. It’s a powerful, freeing feeling to be present with yourself and with those you love. It’s even more powerful to expand your mind and develop it into who you really want to be.
Here’s to a summer filled with wonderful memories, lots of sunshine, and lots of love!