February 10, 2019

The gift of Italian magic

We were laughing so much, I could hardly breathe.
Tears seemed to be streaming from everywhere; not just my eyes.

I was sure I was going to need to dash to the toilet at any minute.
All of this on a full stomach of home-created pastas and pastries oozing Tuscany flavours,
and vegetables that exploded with sun and fresh herbs in my mouth.

It was more than a body could bear.

We were gathered in the cooling dining room of this ochre, cream and sepia villa.
A dozen of us, nestled now amongst hills and a gurgling mountain stream.

Directors of this.
General Manager of that.
Physiotherapist and sculptor.
Translator and teacher.
Editor and publisher.

Oh, and little ol’ me.

We were there to see if the normal skills, the essential logic, the leadership,the processes and systems of our everyday world…
Could be directed to producing something stunningly, breathtakingly creative.
That’s what we were learning to do.
Writing which – just maybe – would entrance and enthral and inspire and captivate.

It was a long shot.
We weren’t convinced, as we started working together on Monday morning

But by Wednesday we were stunned!
There was this laughter.
There were those tears.

To show you what I mean, I’m going to share what was written about a tender scene between two of the group.

Imagine this:
He is a retired director of a major insurance company, laden with stories of his professional success.
Such a pleasant, funny man.
She is a bright, psychotherapist, fragile in form. A polish mother of two little blond girls.

Whilst she was on a day trip, swimming in the sea with most of the group.
He stayed behind, and painted a picture of her standing in the market square of the nearest village.
In the evening, when she returned…
He handed her this picture, in front of the rest of us, as we finished another succulent dinner.

Everybody cried.

This is what was written about that scene:

“This sylphlike child; this child who is mother,
Squeezing this sage, this helpless boy,
With her arms so fragile, and fingers so fluttering,
Until his form is squeezed to a truer size, no mightier than his young, tender heart.

And all his winter-warming accomplishments fall discarded to the cold stones, 
And lay bared and uncared around their feet.

What he had written was the stroking of his soft brush.
Dipped in the water of compassion; his living well.
And, with her sip, his words splintered her heart,
Clouding the opening eyes of her astonished soul.

We waited while they flew away, twirling through the clouds,
To collect thoughts and threads from the skies.
And we breathed again on their return;
The tiniest tinkling of a sigh.

Just one tear when they released their embrace.
One tear splashed onto ten cheeks.

We will remember this when we meet again,
Here. Or there.
We will speak of it. But voicelessly, 
In case the moment is melted by our mumbling.

And we will weep for joy once more, in the bright silence.”

Leaders and executives come to me, labelling themselves with descriptions of who they are….
And what they’re capable of.

This indescribable week in Tuscany taught us how ridiculous we are.
How crushingly we limit what we’re capable of doing.

And that, taken out of our mechanical, screen-dominated environment…
We learn to think and feel and say and do what we thought was impossible just hours before.

We’re gifted with the capacity to create pure magic.
And the only barrier to that magic is our disbelief in the wonder of our humanity.

Imagine what would change for you if the prison of that disbelief was blown wide open!