Wow, that was a journey. it's great to be back - as much as I loved being with good friends, Max & Cristiana, in Italy and sharing the experience with my kids (for the first time). We certainly take certain things for granted. Take driving safely, for one. I guess it's all a matter of perspective and what you're used to, but I can never get over how they drive there, regardless of how many times I visit and drive amongst them myself. Everybody rides your bumper like they're being chased by a dinosaur or something. They also MUST pass you...no matter how fast you are going, where you are, how narrow the road, or how much further they have to go. Age is no barrier: grandparent, great grandparent, child, infant, whatever. They have all taken an oath at birth to attempt to pass each other using whatever vehicle (or on foot) is at their disposal in the moment. I know it's all a matter of perspective, and I kept reminding myself of that, it's normal for them and they don't mean any disrespect to each other by doing it. But I'm still baffled. I took deep breaths and just R-E-L-A-X-E-D and let them ride and pass.
I started to think how our cultural expectations and history can completely blind us to the truth sometimes. It really became a profound thought for me...all stemming from this driving thing. Here's what I mean. While driving in the U.S., I get really MAD when people tailgate me. I think most of us do. It's unsafe and irritating, right? Yet in Italy, it's completely normal. Nobody gets mad, and they just expect it. So, let's say you're driving in Italy, and this guys on your tail, and you get out at a stop light and start yelling at him. You have every right to...he's being a jerk, right?! Well, he has no idea why you're mad and just thinks, "wow, Americans are such jerks!" (except he thinks it in Italiano). What's happening here? Both of us COMPLETELY believe we're right, and both are upset about imaginary intentions of the other that caused the anger.
This is profound, to me, because if each were to stop and explain why they were angry, AND the other listened actively, neither could be angry anymore! There would simply be no grounds for anger because the intents of the offense were not real. When I remind myself that Italians just tailgate and pass - that's the way they grew up, and they aren't trying to be rude, I can no longer be offended or upset. That road rage feeling inside just dissapates. It just goes away. What if everyone, everywhere, took the time to consider the other side completely before they got mad. Friends, lovers, spouses, parents, kids, teachers, different races, community leaders, world leaders, and galactic decision makers. What would happen? How much conflict in this world is the result of our own misperceptions and resistence to simply listening?
Ah, enough of the philosophising, the trip was awesome and I loved all the wonderful Italians we met and shared marvelous meals with. I can't wait to go back next spring!