Monday, August 4, 2014

Living well

is the best revenge. I think about that expression a lot here in Italy. I wonder though, what does it really mean? Revenge against what or against whom? Is living well the best that we can do for ourselves and for our community? Is living well the best we can do for ourselves?

Gary and I are so lucky to be living the life we have dreamed about here in Italy, and we are living well, but I don't know that I consider it revenge. We are both grateful for the time that we have had together and for the experiences that we have shared for the last 30 years.  Although each of us believes that the other is the true "love of our life" the over arching belief is that we have been on a journey together. We have been very good companions to one another on this strange journey we call life.  Together we have faced the death of our parents. The death of my sister. The death of my sweet Marisa. We have faced together the triumphs and failues in our work life. We have faced huge financial success and near financial ruin.  We have faced my cancer and ongoing treatment together. Now we are facing this transitional move to Italy and our retirement together, as a team.

To suddenly find ourselves in our 60's and retired in Italy, it is interesting to look back at our life in an introspective way.  What type of life have we created for ourselves? Individually and as a couple? What are we most proud of? What do we wish we could "do over." There was an article recently in the NYTimes that proposed that people that have a happy life have deep and abiding relationships with others, and they understand the limited utility of 'things' be it fame, success, physical appearance, sex, etc. in their life. Love People Not Pleasure

The point of the article is that we should love people not things or pleasure. We are to love people and use things. Too often in the US we love things and use people.  Always looking for the next new toy or the next fantasy relationship does not bring about abiding happiness.  It is only necessary to do a quick review of the gossip rags to see how clearly people who pursue pleasure or fun are always striving but never really getting anywhere.

 Coming from California, it is so easy to pursue a life that is built only on physical looks, having fun, and always looking for that next diversion. The problem is that it never lasts.  The new love becomes that old love.  The woman of 60 can never compete with a woman of 30 no matter how thin she remains or how much surgery she has. This never ending American chase is something that can not be won. In Italy, there seems to be a deeper understanding that relationships always trump inanimate objects, including work! It is something to get used to.  The Italian life style that so many Americans adore is based on this simple principle, love people not things or pleasure. Things are to be used. Pleasure is to be enjoyed certainly, but it is never a replacement for that which we love.

The question for Gary and me now is how do we enjoy pleasure in Italy and keep it in a proper perspective. In retirement how does one stay grounded in long term enduring relationships when so many of our dearest friends are away from us.  It takes effort, and work and planning.  Having just returned from Philadelphia I can say that our efforts at loving one another are their own deep reward.

The Stoic One wanted to add in that he had another "boring 2 hour lunch" on Sunday and enjoyed the dessert very much.

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