The challenge for each of us is to remain in the moment, to be here now, living life fully and consciously every day.

I have a little mantra that’s been helping me in that regard lately. You’ve heard the phrase, what would Jesus do? Well, I have one that goes, what would I do or how would I act if I were in Italy today?

The result of me asking that question is that I shift into a gear where I take everything a little easier, less rushed. I find I am more inclined to stop and smell the roses, whether they are actual roses, or whether it’s noticing the design features on a building, a flag flapping in the wind, sounds and aromas coming from inside the shops and restaurants or smiles on the faces of passers-by.

I become a little more casual in my attitude toward my things-to-do list. I fully intend on getting through it, but if something else comes up, then one or more of those things might just have to wait awhile.

The question causes me to be a little less of a heat-seeking missile and a little more of a stroll through the park, or even a gondola ride through the canal.

When I act as if I were in Italy today, food becomes more than sustenance and more than nutrition, and eating is more than a mechanical act and more than the fulfillment of hunger. Instead, it’s a sensual experience, a ceremony, a conscious appreciation of nature’s bounty, and if I’m lucky, the art of the person who made the food. If I’m breaking bread with others, it becomes the mechanism for connection, communion and conversation. The raising of a glass and toasting opens the channel for ideas, and feelings, and friendship to flow.

If I’m eating by myself, I tend to choose fresher, healthier, higher-vibration food, and it tastes more delicious when I act “as if I were in Italy today.”

And if I’m in that frame of mind when I’m cooking, not only does it keep me conscious of pouring love into the food I cook, but I’m better, also, at cleaning up the pots and pans as I go.

When I act like I’m in Italy today, I find that I make more time for people. Instead of protecting myself against social interruption, so that I don’t get stuck in a too-long exchange that might keep me from going where I have to go and doing what I have to do, I’m more open to chance encounters and to bonding with neighbors and friends. These meetings serve as a reminder that human interaction is a vitalizing force.

I appreciate my village and the power of community even more so than usual when I ask, what would I do if I were in Italy today.

I laugh more, stress less and I recall what my friends who own the restaurant told me when they first moved here from Italy: “Where we come from, people work to live, but here they live to work,” and that pulls me from the work, work, work mentality, and the whirlwind of ambition that would have us postpone the reality of the moment in favor of some illusive future.

To stay in the present, some people use the mantra, treat each day as if it’s your last. But for me, an even better device is to treat the day as if I were in Italy, because used in this way, Italy, for me, represents the liveliness of the senses, the tweaking of priorities and the enjoyment of life.

Ron Colone can be reached at ron.colone@gmail.com

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