Dolce Far Niente

dolce far niente color me mad

I recently watched ‘Eat Pray Love.’ It was one of those days when I indulged in a movie marathon with the least care in the world (self-love or what?). I watched it for the third time, and I noticed far more details this time around than ever before. No. I’m not here to review the movie, although I wouldn’t lie that it was surreal to vicariously live that nomad life through the protagonist Julia Roberts who travels to Italy, India, and Bali in a year. This post is dedicated to the one moment that spoke to me, and if you’ve watched the movie in the thick of it, you know that I’m talking about ‘Dolce Far Niente.’

Dolce Far Niente

It translates to ‘The sweetness of doing nothing’ in Italian. This phrase comes up in the scene at a barber shop where the protagonist Liz (Julia Roberts) meets her newly made friends in Italy. It’s a response to Liz’s statement that she feels guilty that she’d been in Rome for 3 weeks and all she did was ‘learn a few Italian words and eat.’ Her Italian friend disses her, saying she feels guilty because ‘she’s American’ and mocks the fast-paced, workaholic lives they live while highlighting the contrary of how the French allow themselves to enjoy doing nothing.

When I said it out loud, I thought Dolce Far Niente is a gorgeous phrase, and its meaning makes it even better. Living a slow life and finding joy in doing nothing is more challenging than it sounds. Though the scene takes a dig at Americans, all of us around the world are essentially doing the same—living from weekend to weekend. We watch videos while sh*tting, ‘Netflix and chill’ while eating, and scroll through shopping apps when bored. There ALWAYS has to be something. It feels unproductive to ‘do nothing.’ The stillness is unfamiliar to us. Slowing down or doing nothing almost feels like a privilege.

Now, come to think of it, the more time you spend doing nothing, the more time you spend on your thoughts and inner dialogue, process them, understand them, and have more control over them. It’s akin to practicing mindfulness, perhaps the essence of meditation. Dolce Far Niente isn’t something we can cultivate in all aspects of life, but we can choose to adapt it whenever we can afford it. No phone in the loo, no Netflix at every single dinner, no earphones during the jog, and no phone calls while walking the dog.

Well, one can always try. And fail. And keep trying. 

Btw, I’ve linked the scene for those who haven’t watched ‘Eat Pray Love.’

What movies/shows have you been watching lately? Let me know!