I've been here in Florence now for two years. I'm sure that there are lots of people who never thought I'd last this long. Probably just as many people know how determined (although some might mistakenly substitute the word stubborn) I can be when I decide to do something.
It's been quite an adjustment for me to live here. More than just language and culture. More than food. My days no longer revolve around work in a desperate way. I don't have a to-do-list that stretches weeks into the future. I've stopped using other people's definition of success to judge my own life. It hasn't always been easy.
I've spent two years learning to live in this moment. It's been hard, because it's the complete opposite of how I was raised. It's taken me a long time to appreciate living in the moment. But I've learned that it's important because once a moment passes it's gone forever. I don't want to miss anymore present moments that are real because my attention is on a future that is only a possibility.
Some days I still need to remind myself that this way of living is as valid as the way I used to live. True, we don't have a lot of stuff. In fact, hardly any stuff at all. But what we have gives us great pleasure every day. We never go hungry. We have amazing friends who are generous with their time and friendship. We have each other and share a respect and love for each other that will guide us not just through this moment but through the rest of our lives.
Sometimes I still feel the pull of my old life and values. I question my sanity. In those times I remind myself that when God* wrote those ten commandments work was mentioned only to support the importance of keeping the Sabbath for God only. Not how many hours, not any pay scale, nothing about how much was enough. All God wrote about stuff was that you should be happy with what you have and let others enjoy their stuff in peace. It's my personal opinion that God didn't intend for us to spend our entire lives working so hard we don't enjoy the life we've been given.
God doesn't care if I work or play. God doesn't judge my life based on my income, my possessions or the value of my 401K.
God only asks that I treat others with respect and give each person I meet the very best of me so that they can in turn give their best to others.
Any other ideas about how I should be living my life have been given to me by people. Good people....honest people. But people whose experiences and their reaction to them are different from mine. My experiences tell me that the life I'm living is a good one. One that I could and have recommended to dear friends, knowing that it can only make their lives richer.
* I use God because I was raised as a Christian. Replace God with any other word you like....goddess, universe, collective consciousness, or whatever you might acknowledge as that power that holds us all together.