16 June 2011

au revoir, not goodbye

The song "Time to Say Goodbye" is on a CD I play quite often. It is beautiful, but poignant.

This morning I said goodbye to the person who frustrated me and prompted my recent "rant" post. Friends, it would seem, can be better friends with a little distance between them. It was quietly sad, that brief railway station farewell. I am still a little unsure why I found it hard to say my good byes.

Now it is time to reflect on all the good things a person brings to our lives. For a while there I saw only the things that bothered me, and not the good.

My problem, it seems (not my words), is that I am looking after myself too well. No, not the vino rosso, the olive oil, the formaggio, or the chocolato. I think it was my independence that was the problem.

So what have I learnt, having another Kiwi renting in the heart of "my" village, sharing some of my interests, meeting my friends?

I am very protective of my community. I guard it jealously. I consider it my own community, although I have no right to do so more than any other new-comer in town. I don't really like sharing "my patch" except with passing tourists. I remember joking with locals when I gained my permesso di soggiorno, telling them that they could now close the doors to other foreigners. Our numbers were complete. Perhaps I wasn't really joking. Our international mix is an interesting one, but we do dilute what is local. I have very mixed feelings about that.

I like my space. I enjoy helping people, but I hate things being taken for granted. I wonder now, do I take too much for granted myself? I hope not. I really appreciate the visitors who wait until I offer them the internet. I will, I do. I know what it is like when travelling without internet access. I love to share, to offer hospitality, but I also need time out, when my space is my own alone. My computer is more personal to me than my handbag!

I know that sometimes I can't manage everything that needs to be done, but I don't always appreciate the good intentions of others. I feel smothered, obligated and irrationally irritated by some kind people, while others have a wonderful way of helping me and they even make me feel OK about asking for help.

Mostly I have learnt just how much silence is important to me. I love my long silences, my contemplative time, my peaceful time. Is it meditation? I don't really know. But companionable silences can give me more pleasure than intense conversation at times.

I have discovered over the past five weeks how strong and assertive I can be. I may not have put out boundaries in a manner that sat well with me, but put them out I certainly did. I surprised myself repeatedly. Now my task is to find a way to maintain those boundaries in a more gentle way, a way that is more how I perceive myself to be.

The word that I chose to contemplate at the beginning of this year was "grace". I still have along way to go before I am comfortable that all my actions are gracious. I suppose another lesson for me has been that complacency is dangerous. The qualities we want to nurture in ourselves need to be remembered and practised, whatever the circumstances. There is nothing kind and gracious in ranting and raving on a public blog. If I need an excuse it is simply that it made me feel better at the time.

Am I too independent? No, I don't think so. I might bite off more than I can chew at times, but (at least for now) I still have my own teeth!

Today I am grateful for the kindnesses offered to me even though I may have resented them at the time.

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