Raspberries on the Amalfi Coast

The older I get the more I realize that sometimes the only way to really understand something is to just sit with it for awhile. It’s a quiet sort of thing, so different from the logical approach and  gargantuan analytical effort of my academic days. Some things have to come in through the heart though, and it’s hard to make headway with them any other way. This struck me when I happened across a quotation by William Morris last week.

“The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” – William Morris

If I had read that five years ago while I was in graduate school and studying the Arts & Crafts movement in Europe and America, I would have been confused. What details of daily life? You mean the lunch I didn’t have time to eat since I had a pile of readings to finish before class that night? Laundry? I’m sure I did it, but I have no recollection of it at all during those years.

If I had read that two years ago, I would have reflected on it as a goal. Life in Italy had already slowed me down and captured my attention. While hanging laundry below a 12th-century bell tower in Italy, it’s kind of hard not to take more interest in the details of daily life. Learning to cook Italian was slowly transforming the way I thought about food and cooking, and every day I fell in love a little more with every part of my new life.

Last Thursday when I read that quotation by Morris for the first time, it struck me as immediately true and sent off a warm vibration that resonated deep within in chest. This isn’t something I could have understood five years ago, but I felt that it was something I’ve been looking for my entire life. Yesterday on my birthday I thought that perhaps I’ve been sitting with it for 32 years now. My heart was finally open and ready. I went out to the garden early yesterday morning while it was still cool and the birds were singing in the shade. I knelt down and smiled when I saw there were a few ripe raspberries ready to be picked. I gently twisted them off and rested them in my palm, and then went back inside to make cappuccino and breakfast.

Three sweet raspberries on my yogurt. They would be gone in moments, but their existence was a little treasure.

  • This is so lovely, Laura, and I’m so happy that you’ve had those words really sink in; I feel the same, that five, ten, fifteen years ago, that would have been a nice quote to tuck away, but it’s so different when you *feel* it. Hope you had a great birthday weekend 🙂 xx

    June 24, 2012
  • You are so right. It fits well with the Buddhist mindset of living in the moment. I remember reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called Peace is Every Step that demonstrates this in each small, simple essay. Lovely stuff.

    Another thing I had to learn is to “rethink” my daily life details. I’d run through the supermarket, hurrying because I had a million other things to do and resenting the time spent shopping. Then I’d stop myself and look around and realize how priviliged I was and how very grateful I should be, and was, that I actually could do this: buy food and have no worries about paying for it.

    It’s not hard to do, once or twice, when you think of it. What’s harder is to make it a way of life, to be aware in the moment, and to see and appreciate the details.

    And your post reminded me again, today, so thank you!

    June 25, 2012
  • Jean

    All so true , Laura. We need to slow down and appreciate our health, every flower blooming, bird singing,friend wanting to chat,sinrise/sunset,etc. I have leared to do this only since I retired. Life was always in the fast lane. Enjoy. And good to see you back on Ciao Amalfi

    June 25, 2012
  • That’s a lovely quote – and lovely pictures to go with it.

    June 25, 2012
  • Beautifully written! Jasper had the same experience yesterday morning. Well, not quite. He picked fresh raspberries and held them in his hand. Then appreciating the moment with all his 18months of being he stuffed them in his mouth 🙂 I managed to get a few into a basket so we could eat them with breakfast. (ps Happy Belated Birthday!)

    June 25, 2012
  • One of the great things about moving to another country is that it makes you notice all the small details of life, which is the first step to appreciating them. I also think it’s something that culturally Italians and French people are very good at – savouring the quality, taking the time to talk, admiring beautiful things. And your blog does a wonderful job of sharing these moments with us readers, so thank you for that!

    June 26, 2012
  • LindyLouMac in Italy

    Lovely post Laura, happiness is definitely in the small details of life.

    June 27, 2012
  • Now that I no longer have to rush off to work–work finds me, I can take a few minutes whenever I want to watch the sun come up, stroll through the garden or walk on the beach. It’s nice to slow down and notice the details of life because then you feel in control and in harmony. Thanks for your post.

    June 27, 2012

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