The other day while visiting Rome, we stopped to listen to a street band that was performing not far from the Colusseum. It was a perfect, spring day: sun, blue sky, slight breeze. Among the tourists (and their selfies) there they were: the vendors… men, young and old, that have come from distant lands to sell bottles of water, silly puddy figures and the indispensable SELFIE STICK.
Last year the choice was black or black. This year there is an entire range of shades and models to choose from.
‘Selfie’, ‘Selfie’, we heard between one song and another.
The poor guy approached us. Of course he did. We were tourists…
He didn’t know that he didn’t stand a chance.
‘SELFIE?’, he optimistically shouted over the soothing sound of the sax.
‘How much does it cost’, my husband asked out of curiosity.
‘Solamente dieci euro’ (only 10 euro), the tall, 20 something guy from Senegal responded.
‘No, grazie’, Andrea said.
‘How much do you want to pay? 8,6,5?’, he asked.
‘No, we aren’t interested. Thanks anyway’.
‘You do selfies, you need stick’, he continued.
(We could use it as a back scratcher I kiddingly whispered to Kenia.)
‘No, we don’t do selfies and anyway we don’t have those kind of phones’… as he pulled his ancient Samsung out of the side pocket of his backpack and waved it in the air to the rhythm of Louie Prima’s Angelina.
The guy was literally amazed. He shook his head. ‘No smartphone. INCREDIBILE’, he said, laughing as he went on his way singing his little song…selfie, selfie, selfie… a Bublè tune accompanying him in the background.
We took out our small camera, turned to the woman sitting next to us and asked her if she could take our photo. A CLICK and…
Two days later…
I entered a 2×2 post office in an itty bitty town on the road towards Saturnia Thermal Springs*. My daughters’ homemade Mother’s day cards were already pretty much destined to be late so I needed to get them into Grandma’s and Maw’s hands the quickest way possible. As I requested information about the cheapest way to get our loving wishes overseas by Sunday, the sixty something gentleman behind the glass window kindly suggested that I could save money and time by downloading an App on my cellphone.
‘Mille grazie, but I don’t have that type of phone’, I replied.
‘You don’t have a SMART phone’, he asked with a somewhat shocked look on his face.
‘Nope, I responded’, as I pulled out my ancient Nokia from my bag and showed it to him.
‘Well, you must have an Ipad you can download it on’, he confidently said as he continued to explain in detail what I needed to do while pointing to the square-shaped bar code on the back of the postal slip.
I shook my head.
He paused for a second. I smiled back and waited.
‘Well’, he said… ‘WHAT DO YOU HAVE?’.
Before a blink of an eye, I started to give him the response one may expect. It regarded my possession of what was once considered the basics: a laptop, an email address, etc…
and then, I cut myself short and slowly began to list all the things that I actually have…
A satisfying 20 year marriage with an incredible human being, 2 beautiful, happy daughters, my health, their health… a camper, a used, station wagon that is worth almost nothing, but gets us where we need to go… a job that doesn’t feel like work, lots of months to travel, a piece of land in Costa Rica, another in Argentina, a home in an ecovillage in Upstate New York that I rent out… family in Italy, family in the US, close friends around the globe, a day alone once in a while, time not spent checking my emails, tweets, FB posts or the weather, almost 46 years of life… 7 favorite books that I consider my Bibles**, 4 favorite cds loaded on my Apple Ipod shuffle, my running sneakers, my yoga mat, a set of 5lb weights and a collapsible hula hoop that travels everywhere I go… a stuffed monkey named Beeper that my brother gave me when we were kids (he travels with me too!), an old, reliable pair of jeans (that still fit) and… three amazing mothers, two of which who will surely have a cheek to cheek smile on their faces when they eventually receive our specially prepared wishes… whether received on Mother’s Day Sunday or a few days later.
I was breathless and thinking he must think I am nuts…
but he smiled at me in sheer acknowledgement as he gladly proceeded to mail my envelopes the old fashioned way.
For Mother’s Day (and my birthday) I want to acknowledge all that I do have (how often have we caught ourselves dwelling on what we lack? Even worse, how many times has this habitual practice gone completely unnoticed?)…
I want to give thanks for the love and the health, all the things that remain invisible, yet matter the most, and also for all the material possessions that I could ever need or want…
I want to give thanks for my forgiveness and my gratitude, for my dad’s sense of humility and humor…
I want to give thanks to everyone that has touched my life – good and bad, for a mere second or for many, many years – have made my world a richer place to be or have taught me important lessons of acceptance…
I want to thank my husband, my daughters, my family and friends, the people that have inspired me through an indirect encounter or a few eloquently written words on a page …
And, I want to thank the three incredible mothers in my life…
the one that gave birth to my other half, that accepted me as her second daughter before we even met and that has raised me for the past two decades,
the one that arrived 30 years ago (destined to be my mom and guardian angel) when I was already half-way grown and when my dad and I needed her most… and continues to stand by me no matter what every single day, near or far,
the one that gave birth to me 46 Mother Days ago, gave me everything she ever had, and despite our growing pains loves me more than anyone or anything in this entire world.
This, kind Mr. Post Office Man, is all that I have. Hope from the bottom of my heart that you can say the same.
Happy Mother’s Day!
This is for all of you:
I searched for kindness,
But, I didn’t find it.
I searched for my soul,
But, it escaped me.
I searched for my mother
And I found all three.
And thanks mom, but once again… I do not want a smartphone for my birthday!
love, joy, gratitude
*Saturnia Thermal Springs: See http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/aroundtuscany/hot-springs-tuscany-saturnia/
**My six favorite books:
The Gift of An Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison (Magical Journey comes to a close second)
Paradise in Plain Sight by Karen Maezen Miller
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda
Quando Bevi Il Te Stai Bevendo Le Nuvole by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Complete Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Mrs. March was Zen before being Zen was in fashion!)
plus my three favorite cookbooks:
Chloe’s Italian Vegan Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
The Blender Girl by Tess Masters
The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone