I am presently enjoying several weeks in my beloved Italy. There is so much to write about but I think I have to give first place of honor to the Island of Ischia, which sits just off the coast from Naples. We arrived in Naples, via Rome, on a Thursday evening and after six days catching up with jet-lag, eating LOTS of mozzarella (among many other good Italian dishes!), and going to Bahia Blanca, a favourite beach on the other side of Gaeta, we took the ferry over to Ischia. This is an island formed by volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago.
The first thing that visitors to Ischia notice as the ferry approaches the island is how green and fresh everything is despite the heat. Because Ischia is a volcanic island it is quite mountainous and its slopes are a rich green as they come down to meet the various towns and villages. Almost every garden is rich in flowers which at the moment are in full summer bloom.
All of the streets are lined, usually on both sides, with tall rhododendron trees dripping flowers in every shade of pink imaginable. Bougainvillea in all its many shades spills over walls, climbs fences, and trails up and down the walls of houses as though an artist had dipped many brushes into different colors on his palette and splashed them here and there in wild abandon. Hibiscus offer up their beautiful shallow open trumpets as though about to create some romantic perfumed symphony, and huge pregnant balls of mauve and blue blooms top the stems among the lush green foliage on large hortensia bushes. Everywhere is a riot of color.
But color does not stop with God’s amazing creation. The residents of Ischia have added their own artistic touch to their island. Houses are painted in every pastel tint available. Shops are decorated with colorfully decorated tiles or painted murals and a wild profusion of products hangs in doorways, spills out onto the sidewalks, or fills windows in such a way as to entice the passerby to stop and peruse and, perhaps, buy. My heart and soul are filled with color since being here in Italy and Ischia has played a principal part in that.
Most of my life up to age thirty five was lived either in some bleak yesterday or in a fantasy tomorrow. Rarely did I live in today – in the present moment which, when you think about it, is really the only moment that we are truly assured of. This breathe, this moment.
My time and energy would be spent (wasted would probably be a better word to use!) rehashing some past event or conversation, trying to rearrange it in my mind – to my advantage, of course! Not only would I do this the day following the situation, several times in that day, but I would run a smorgasbord of variations on the theme for several days, even weeks. It was exhausting and totally non-productive.
I tell my friends, when I am recounting this bizarre past behaviour, that my mind was a veritable Steven Spielberg!! High drama, suspense, pathos, and melodrama along with revenge and sometimes murder or wicked torture, merged in an explosion of creative ideas. But then I am quick to point out that I did not exhibit one iota of Spielberg’s intelligence because I never made a dime from my creative mind.
This kind of explains another quirkiness that belongs to my past. You see I wanted to keep all that drama to myself (who knows why my crazy fingers just typed “myself” with an uppercase “M”????). It wasn’t meant for sharing with the general public. I just wanted to wallow in it all on my own. Perhaps my soul managed to make a secret of it because it knew just how insane all that drama was! Seriously, when I think of what went on in my mind sometimes I truly believe that if anyone knew I would have been committed.
Then, when I wasn’t trying to “fix” the past, I would spend hour upon hour dreaming up some marvelously romantic future for myself. There would always be a handsome man, lots of money, and a life full of leisure and pleasure involved, and I would rarely be living in my native country. Other geographical places would always seem far more exotic and far more suited to my sublimely wonderful self!!
Thank God I choose to live in the here and now today. There is such joy in just being aware that I am breathing – in, out, in, out. There is nothing I love more than to sit in my screened room and look at the trees, the birds, the flowers, the butterflies, and recognize that they are there, right now, and I can enjoy them. Have you ever sat still and watched a hummingbird hovering over a flower just two yards from your gaze? It is an absolute miracle of the Now.
Today my energy and time are devoted to the present moment. I no longer suffer mental and emotional exhaustion from the sheer effort of creativity with no true or tangible result. When I allow myself creative freedom today it is to really produce something – a card, a poem, a letter, a posting for my web page. And most importantly, my heart is peaceful and satisfied today.