Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Whicha YOU like better?

There is no such thing as a simple walk in Assisi.  Nor should one ever consider a brisk walk. There is something special about every single inch of the town.  Ancient streets, built atop streets that are even older.  Homes built side by side, stone facades, pan tile roofs and beautiful doorways.  Flower pots, vines creeping gracefully up alongside a doorway, all the most common of uncommon sights.  Everything up a hill or a steep incline.  A StairMaster salesperson would go completely broke here.  The only ones who seem to find it to be a problem are the unsuspecting tourists who huff, puff and complain as they pass in little groups.  Every time I have observed the ritualistic huffing and puffing, it has come from folks who appear to be with a tour group.  "A Day in Assisi" is what they were sold.  They come to see the "cute" little town, the "churches" and have a limited amount of time to spend.  They've also probably spent a day in Rome and one in Florence. 

Oh, I'm sure that the tour guides provide a lot of useful and interesting information.  I know the level of difficulty involved in becoming a licensed tour guide in Italy.  It isn't easy.  But, I've learned that the best guide oftentimes is one's heart. 

For me, Umbria is a state of  mind. Assisi is a remarkable gem in the middle of the province of Umbria, best known as the birthplace of Saints Francis and Clare. While there are many, many ancient, important and beautiful works of art everywhere in Assisi, I am finding that the truest treasures are those I find while walking by myself.  Sure, I find the steep grades challenging and I am always grateful when I hear the hum of an approaching car.  The streets are narrow so I stop and step aside rather than share the road. Good excuse for catching my breath without having to be thought of as one of the huffers and puffers.  I'm taking my time.  I am lucky, I have lots of it.  No real agenda for now, no special place to be or chore to get done.  I'm on a personal retreat, one that I hope will allow me to discover more about my self.  One that will convince me to slow down, take more deep cleansing breaths, and move forward.

Life is an assortment of steep inclines.  I was reminded of this today when I encountered these two elderly ladies walking together on a little side road. They walked, they talked, they didn't seem to be bothered in the least by the fact that they were only at the beginning of a very steep grade. They were enjoying each other's company, perhaps on their way home following a visit to a mutual friend. I laughed to myself as I remembered my Aunt Tina who was being taught to drive by my father at the same time he was teaching my mother.  Aunt Tina and Mom were sharing their views on learning to drive and it was Aunt Tina who asked Mom "which do you like better, going uppa the hill or downa?".  We never forgot that.

It's nice to remember that following an incline, there usually is a nice, easier decline.  Along the way, there are some beautiful sights.  It might not be necessary to huff and puff our way through the uphills.  I think that if we are prepared for what's ahead, we can get up there a bit easier, unlike the tour grouper who hadn't a clue. 

So, I'm here, learning again to drive and I'll bet that I lika going uppa the hill just as much as going downa!!
Buona notte

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