Dolce far neinte–the fine art of doing nothing. My first introduction to the concept of non-doing as a virtue came from an unexpected source. The movie, Houseboat, served as my entree to this way of thinking.
Sophia Loren at her peak of gorgeousness, kicking her feet languidly as she fished from the edge of a houseboat. Cary Grant (equally at his peak of gorgeousness…actually, he never had a peak, he was forever gorgeous) anyway…Cary Grant in an all American tizzy because “there’s work to be done!”
Dolce Far Niente
Sophia shrugs and says, with Italian accented vowels, “Dolce far niente. It is sweet to do nothing.” In post-war 1958 that was a joke. Ha, ha, lazy European; what does she know but how to look outrageously sexy while fishing. But for me in the 80’s, an overworked graduate student at the time, descended from a long line of overworked workaholics, a light went on as if the Dalai Lama had spoken to me. “It is sweet to do nothing.”
Certainly, I haven’t mastered the concept. My upbringing, my internal drive, and my overdeveloped work ethic keep me going when I probably should at least take a break and at most just plain old stop. Doing nothing isn’t easy! However, it’s important from time to time to give yourself a break. Dolce far niente makes life sweeter–both in the doing and the non-doing.