Monday, January 11, 2010

Present through Past and Future

True to my Italian origins, I took a nice long break from blogging over the Feste (Christmas Holidays).  Nick and I spent Christmas with the nonni and the nipotini at Pampo's.  Cino turned 75 right before Christmas and survived a serious ladder-related accident which resulted in 8 stitches on his right eyebrow. Nick and I flew back to the U.S. on the 27th, and Jackie and I spent New Year's eve alone discussing our future as a family, which we will indeed be forever, no matter what.
Since Steve was in Cuba last week, I postponed my trip to Santa Fe, which in turn -- thanks to some fresh snowfall over the holidays -- gave me a chance to rest, relax and enjoy some serious snowshoeing, every single day.  I also found a great way to hydrate using Fire Water (a.k.a. Sassy Water).   It's all part of a regimen aimed at strengthening my left knee, so I can enjoy the upcoming ski season.  To me, the start of the new year is a very restorative and contemplative time, especially while surrounded by snow.
It's a new year, a new decade and it's a time to be present and grateful.
At the start of the last decade, I was 38 years old, and at the end of this new one, I will be 58.  During the naughties, a lot happened.  Ten years' worth of life went by, but what do I remember?  Certainly not every minute. Nor every hour.  Nor every day.  Every month? Nah!  Every year? Kind of.  Not really... only in flashes.  This google pie chart is probably an overestimation of what remains in my memory banks out of the last ten years of my life.  Wow.
Is it an indication of how present I was?  Maybe.
It was a busy decade, I was completing my Ph.D., bought two houses (the castle in Spencer and the penthouse in Venice), had to grow Forma Urbis to support my family, as Jackie dealt with Nick's teen years in a new school system, and  a lot more!  Too much on my mind and not a lot of presence -- both physical and mental -- for the people in my life.  Not even for my loved ones.
Inevitable? Perhaps.
It was what it was.
I am grateful for all the achievements and happy moments, and I think I learnt something (I hope) from all my failures. What else can one hope to do?
Now, things are truly changing in my life. Jackie will probably stay in Montreal and Nick is about to leave the nest, however gradually.  I am no longer the director of the WPI Boston Project Center as I start the new one in Santa Fe.  The Venice Project Center's 20-year anniversary is over and I am wondering if I should change the name of this blog (or at least the subtitle) and perhaps even the Venice 2.0 website.  I do plan to work on my personal web site, which is boooring... and I plan to keep on blogging, which I do enjoy very much. I am expecting the presence-o-meter to move drastically to the right in the ensuing decade, and I intend to pay a lot more attention to the people in my life as I focus on the things that truly matter to me the most.

Do I know what these things are?  Not really.
Will I figure it out?  Hopefully.
How will the next decade be?  Different.

Should our purpose be to live a balanced life?  Sure, whatever that means... Or should our purpose be to unify the three marriages and blend them into an integrated whole?  I like that better.  It sounds more real to me.
I wholly subscribe to David Whyte's concept, which would have the three circles in the Venn Diagram overlap almost entirely.  I also think that the three circles need not be the same size.  Having just read Luigi Pirandello's Uno, Nessuno e Centomila, which contains a profound analysis of our ego vs. our image, with echoes of Buddha (佛 = no man) spirituality and Meister Eckhart's medieval teachings, reaffirmed more recently by the eponymous Tolle's "power of now", I think a good "New Decade Resolution" might be to move towards a merged, rebalanced, egoless, present existence, looking more like this...

Anyway, time to start the future 10 years by being present to "my Work", so I can finish grading the final submissions of the last group of Venice students from the past decade!  And, while I do that, let me be selflessly grateful for how "my Relationships" have grown thus far, thanks to "my Work", as well as to "my Self"...
As Nick would say: "It's all good"!

I wish everyone a "most serene" decade...

Festina Lente!  

(top 3 charts produced with Google Charts API -- via a useful blog post)
(last one, composed manually with
excel bubble charts)