At times you find yourself thoroughly contented and hoping it will never end. It’s a beautiful, full feeling. Even knowing such times are fleeting, you can’t help but feel a deep-seeded satisfaction and a hope that perhaps you’ll be able to hold this feeling for a few days, months or maybe even years longer.
This is where I find myself. Content.
My time in Florence has been graced with more joys and pleasures than I rightfully know what to do with. My mornings find me at cafes, sitting silently and listening to beautiful Italian banter about me as I work.
The days find me lost in the small, cobblestone streets, my scarf blowing aside me as I duck into a silver shop. The artisan working diligently as he crafts a small ring, looks up to greet me.
My nights have increasingly found me among music, a little difficult to find here, but a nice, hidden gem when you find the right spots. Sitting, sipping on a glass of Chardonnay and listening to acoustic chords is not such a bad place to find yourself. It doesn't matter that the lyrics are incomprehensible to me. Italian or not, the emotion is there. A connection is somehow formed even with my inability to understand his words.
There have been evenings of sunsets over the beautiful Tuscan hills atop Piazzale Michelangelo. Nights of cooking with Shawn and the no doors crew at the apartment. A night of wine and muscles at a delicious restaurant across the river with new friends. An evening at my favorite coffee shop, reading the book I’ve spent centuries trying to finish, never making the time until this trip. Stops to get macaroons with Julia and admire the attractive Italian who works there (after trying quite an assortment, we’ve found raspberry and strawberry marshmallow to be our favorites). And, of course, there have been nights with the apartment crew, Chandler often playing DJ as we get ready for a night of bars, laughs, and shenanigans.
It’d be naïve of me to think I can continue in this complete state of elation for the remainder of my days, but I’m starting to understand that the pursuit of happiness is a little less formulaic than we’re often led to believe. We stress this one size fits all idea that the ticket to happiness is a checklist of steps: Go to college, major in something practical (even if you don’t enjoy it), get a job, make money, get married, have a family, and voila, happily ever after. If you’re lucky, you’ll even retire early, do a thing or two you enjoy, and go to the grave happy as a clam.
But finding contentment can’t be boiled down to some overarching strategy that works for everyone who follows it.
Since being in Europe, I’ve noticed a full embrace of passion here, an acknowledgement that living in the moment can sometimes be enough. And while I’m not dropping out of school any time soon on some hell bent pursuit of good vibes and good times, I also don’t want to get so consumed in a drive to follow some supposed tried-and-true formula to find happiness that I miss out on the happy moments right in front of me. Maybe by having an openness to the other formulas and possibilities out there, I can hold onto my current contentedness at least a little while longer.
Who knows where the coming days will find me. But hopefully they find me still content, blazing whatever trail I see fit and living in each moment that finds me.