We are not Caesar, and we avoided the Forum, so I can say with confidence that The Ides of March was by far our best day in Rome. After days of clouds and rain, the sun and the moon both showed their faces. We couldn’t seem to tear ourselves away from the Piazza de España and by dusk, we were still there, drinking prosecco at a café under moon clouds.
“How do we rearrange our lives to live in this magnificent city?” we ask ourselves. There’s something about Rome at night, especially under a waxing moon, that causes me to think that reinventing my life and steering it against all the plans that drive me forward is the most natural thing in the world to do. Here, in this city of fallen empires and lovers on Vespas, going against the current of one’s well-planned life seems possible, even wise. The words of Keats, once an expatriate in Rome,
Here in Rome, tsunamis and earthquakes seem as distant as the dated letters of the 18th century Grand Tourists- the young British noblemen who came to Rome to study Italian art and to carry marble busts and statues back home to England.
Here in Rome's historical district there are no skyscrapers, no billboards, and no high-speed expressways. Instead, we walk over streets and sidewalks of cobblestone polished smooth by centuries of moving carriage wheels and the shuffle of pedestrians’ feet. One, red geranium peaks over a windowsill high above the street. There is more marble here than tarmac, and more cafes and patisseries than fast food. Our hotel has ornate, brass handrails and well-worn, marble steps leading all the way up to the 6th floor. In this neighborhood, there is no evidence, thank Artemis, of America: no McDonald's, no Starbucks, no strip malls, no Hummers. Instead: family-run ristourantes, cafes, small specialty shops, and Vespas.
As I walk on the very stones on which Julius Caesar walked on his way to the Forum,
Bamboo Grove, The Hill Country, Maymyo, B.u.r.m.a., April 2009
photo by shamash
The truth of these words by my favorite 13th century Persian mystic cuts me to the core:
There is one thing in this world that you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there's nothing to worry about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life.
“To be simple means to make a choice about what’s important and to let go of all the rest. When we are able to do this, our vision expands, our heads clear and we can better see the details of our lives in all their incredible wonder and beauty.” via Jeff, p. 154 from The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life by John Daido Loori
“Letting go of all the rest” is an on-going, spiritual practice for me.
Distraction is so very seductive. The key is, I suppose, a healthy balance between dancing wildly at bohemian costume parties and staying home on a full-moon night to write when the entire kingdom is at the ball.
Then, from Tish G., another great reminder that calms my chameleon heart:
“Inside my heart, there's this little Buddha very serene, who always reminds me that it's all just zen. Life is all just zen. And the world falls away....everything matters and nothing matters. It is what it is, in this moment, and that is all. That is how you learn to move between the worlds.”