Living in Europe, I’m not often called upon to define, defend or describe that life. In Montpellier, everyone I know is living the same life. In Rome they’ve been witness to it literally since day one, and now I’m an established part of their lives.
The first time I came back to the States, the people I spoke to wanted to know all the details of my shiny new adventure. In subsequent visits, it still seemed like a novelty and there were questions about whether or not it was really going to “take.” But it’s been three years since the last time I was here, and seven years since I moved, seeing kith and kin has taken on a whole new vibe.
Like some sort of reverse canary in the coalmine, it’s almost as though now that I’ve made it work – really work, it’s my (not so) boring old daily life now – people are serious about wanting to know how they can do it, too.
But something else has been happening: It seems that, either directly or indirectly, I’ve been inspiring people. And in return, they’ve been inspiring me, too.
First, there was the short talk I gave at the monthly meeting at my parents’ American-Italian Club of South Jersey and Friends. (Named as such “because we take everybody,” my mother explains.) Having already spoken to them several years ago – and since they all know my parents, they’re more than aware of what I’ve been up to – I glossed over the particulars of my life and instead talked about how important it is to just… go.
Buy the airline tickets – even if they’re for a year from now – and make your dream trip happen. You don’t have to learn the entirety of the Italian language in order to visit your favorite cities. You don’t have to schlep your stuff on and off a tour bus in order to see the sights. You’re not going to find the Italy of your dreams by talking about going. A magical experience is not going to spring forth from a map. It’s only by going there and doing it that you’ll be able to have memories that last a lifetime.
People came up to me afterward and said how inspired they were to take their dream vacation to Italy. There was also a couple who had already planned their trip, and they had a few questions for me – and after speaking with them, I was inspired anew!
They got it. They totally, completely got it. And boy, had they done their homework: The very few questions they had for me made that obvious.
– The husband had learned the word for beer, but he wanted to know if there was a way to ask for beers on tap as opposed to bottled beer. (Yes. Birra alla spina is on tap; the word for bottle is bottiglia.)
– The wife wanted to know how to get from Venice’s Marco Polo airport to their hotel. She had read conflicting reports – was it a bus then a boat, or just a boat? (There are boats that go directly from the airport to Venice proper. But, as I tell everyone who is visiting a city for the first time, spend the money to get to your hotel directly. This is especially true for Venice, where it’s almost certain you’ll get lost, and that’s no fun when you’re carrying your luggage and jet lagged.)
– Another concern of theirs was walking in Capri. Was it really all up and down? (From my experience, yes. But, I told them to ask around for transportation up to the must-see scenic high points of the island.)
Rock on! They were awesome. And, I’m certain they’re going to have an amazing time because although they had done their homework and had planned as much as they could, after speaking with them I was satisfied that they also knew things would go wrong, or seem just too foreign for them to understand, and they would take it in stride as part of their adventure.
A girl named Jamie contacted me several months ago. She wanted to move to Rome – a city I think she had never been to before – and wanted advice. Now, I get emails like this often enough. But, once again, I was delighted to find another person who had done her homework, and I told her she was on the right track and should go for it. While I sincerely doubt my input had much to do with it, she’s now moved there – and absolutely loves it. Only a few weeks into her new adventure, she’s already giving advice on her blog! That’s the mindset of someone who knows she’s done the right thing. So, again: Rock on!
A fellow travel blogger has taken the first step toward her dream of moving to Italy – she’s quit her job to become a full-time travel planner for people going to Italy and Paris. While breaking this news to me she told me one of her major sources of inspiration was a line in my book, which was paraphrased from the following quote by Guillaume Apollinaire:
Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them, and they flew.
If that doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.
And just this morning, I was flattered to know that my book had inspired someone else, too: The girls at Looking Glass Lane. In what can only be described as a meta moment, I’m now going to quote them:
Relocating to another continent may or may not be what our heart is after, but I believe living life fearlessly is. It is fearlessness that allows to forge the unknown, create new dreams and new possibilities, and confidently reinvent ourselves and our destinies. It is fearlessness that begs us to climb the mountain of ‘impossible things.’
Yes! Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
Speaking of yes, how often do you say that when contemplating your life’s dreams? It might be scary to do so, but start from a point of yes – and then work to make it so. It’s OK to be scared. In fact, if you’re not flat-out terrified at some point, you’re doing it wrong.
But how awesome will it be; how amazing will you feel when you’re at that place, that moment in time you’ve been dreaming of for so long? How inspiring will you be to others when you return from your newest adventure and recount your life-changing experiences?
If you’ve been waiting for a sign, this is it: Do it. Go. It’s worth it, and so are you. And if for some reason you need your inspiration to come from a place of no, consider this:
“What was once before you—an exciting, mysterious future—is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone’s experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone’s everyone.”
Synecdoche, New York (via langer)
Is this point of view acceptable to you? (Hint: The answer is NO.)