Life in Gravagna in August is at its most hectic— bustling as the village swells with summer folk–many returning to their family homes–others escaping the heat of the Italian cities. Its a marathon of visits–albeit rewarding on many levels. And amidst the bustle– there is always the joy of hiking and many hours of walking free the mind for reflection. Even when hiking in a group I love how conversation flags at a certain point– when we have used up our momentary store of delightful conversation and run out of words–this happens quite naturally and with no prompting—-silence settles when it is ready and our brains begin to listen to our feet.
I have been thinking about many things. Among them, I have experienced mounting frustrations about the limits of social media for certain forms of communication. I love it for what it does well, keeping up with my family in particular is joyful–I love the pictures of my nieces and nephews and loved ones. I will always enjoy Maggie’s tree tops of the day. . . but there is more I want to share and think about and it is perhaps unfair to expect social media to accommodate this. While no virtual interaction is a worthy substitute for a bottle of cheap (or expensive) wine on a porch or by a fireside with bright minds, I do miss the more discursive nature of blogging. I thought it might be refreshing to return to it or a while. I have no idea what that will look like when my homeschooling year starts. We have only a few weeks left here in Italy, until our return and we will indeed hit the ground running. There is no way of getting around the reality that family life is at its most hectic at this stage of life and that things will change rapidly over the course of the next few years as my children move into the older grades. . . .and so I am filled with thoughts of the future and what seeds I need to plant now. . .
One of my favorite books last year was Deep Work by Cal Newport. The crux of this book was that work of value is the result of engaged concentration where our cognitive abilities are pushed to their limit – work away from the distractions of social media, email and the like—that work of value can be created in these moments of deep focus which need to be cultivated by what we let in and what we hold at bay. It helped me to realize why certain habits in my life were working toward this kind of focus— others are in need of adjustment. I find that with each passing year of homeschooling I am called to narrow my focus and address the areas I naturally neglect while at the same time continuing to pursue learning alongside my children. Striking this balance is key–but its not easy.
I also feel the call to create running deeply within me. I am sitting on a pile of poems I want to try and clean up and get into a manageable mini-collection –and this summer I immersed myself in watercoloring. I want to keep painting as a thread in my life next year and find a way to let it continue to develop wherever it is going….
So there it is .. .the top layer of my brain musings —working its way upward into a blog post. As the poet, David Jones puts it, “Whats under, works up”.
I hope to be popping in here from time to time to roll over ideas in my brain and if you enjoy reading them feel free to stay for a moment. Its not my porch or the fireside but bring a glass of wine if you can.