As we approached Firenze, I looked out the window and was immediately taken in by the beauty….the farms…the olive trees…the green lush fields. The closer we came to landing, the more energized I became. The wheels and my soul touched the ground in unison. We were back…and it felt right. We all quickly disembarked…hopped on the shuttle bus…and scurried into the luggage carousel. We grabbed our bags without issue and knew exactly where to go. We hopped in a taxi and said with no hesitation, “Piazza Peruzzi, due”. We knew the route by heart so every building, sign and olive tree looked familiar. As we traversed the streets around the Duomo, it felt as if we had never left….in no time, we were pulling up to our flat. We all quickly jumped out, grazie mille’d our driver and went up the stairs and into our old home.
In the days to come, the journals came out, the books were opened and the moments were cherished. We walked everywhere immediately as if we had to see every memory we had accumulated in the six months that we were there. We stopped in on old friends every day….and found solace in our familiar places of rest…the churches, the benches, the late nights on Piazza Signoria….. We had a long list of things to see this time….”The David”, “The Uffizi”….day trips to the country….all things we did not have time for in our daily life last year. Amidst all of the “to do” lists, I knew I truly only had one agenda…..to figure out the secret to this life….or perhaps more specifically…..to me in this life. How do I tuck this peace safely inside my soul….and never let it go?
Throughout our holiday, I stayed mindful of every experience. I reflected on how I was feeling and why…it was almost as if I was doing a research paper and I was the subject. As the days flew past and my feelings grew stronger, I began to unravel the mystery. Living a balanced life in Italy is the equivalent of meditating while living in an ashram….or exercising while immersed in a boot camp…the lifestyle is simply conducive to peace. My life at home is not….but that does not mean I can’t obtain it…..just perhaps that I have to work a bit harder. The bells of Santa Croce went off as I reveled in the new understanding that for me, peace was not a noun…it was a verb….it was an action….and it required strength.
Growing up in an athletic family, I was not a stranger to working hard at both physical and mental strength. My dad taught me at an early age that my body and mind were a team. He introduced me to visualization before anyone ever told “The Secret” and he told me about “The Zone”….a place where the mind and body work in perfect synch and movements seem to flow without conscious effort…a place that most reserve for elite athletes….but is truly available to us all. I also read books in my younger days about “sports psyching”…training yourself to listen to your body…read your muscles…and try to construct a bridge between mind and body..and I worked hard physically…the more I pushed myself beyond….the stronger I became…physically and mentally.
As the bells of Santa Croce continued to ring, I realized it was already time to join the troops at “Osteria Dei Benci“…one of our favorite restaurants in Florence. I closed my journal but instead of tucking it away in my bag, I held on to it as I walked…and as I meditated on its words….my grasp grew tighter….and the tighter I squeezed….the warmer my heart felt. I had my answer…..and this time….I was not going to let it go.