Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it’s still a beautiful world. Be happy. Strive to be free”–thank you, Max Ehrmann

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it’s still a beautiful world. Be happy, strive to be free.”

I have always remembered this saying ever since a good friend wrote it in my high school yearbook my junior year (are you there, Carol?). I fully believe this, too. It reminds me of the words of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who was murdered in a concentration camp and whose diary was turned into a best-selling book and hit movie. In one of her last postings, she wrote, “Despite everything, I really believe that people are good at heart”.


My last posting was somewhat negative. Aww, who am I kidding? It was REALLY negative.

It really is a beautiful world. There is much that is negative when you think of homelessness, war, poverty, abuse, sex trafficking, starvation, crime. But there are billions of good things happening every day. Every day someone is reaching out to indigenous peoples in Africa and Central America. Every day someone is excelling at a school examination, an athletic endeavor, a professional pursuit, a relationship.

Every day someone is encouraged by the smile of a stranger or the minor gesture of a passerby. Every day there is beauty to behold in the face of an elderly person, the giggle of a child, the setting of the sun, the glimmer of an icicle.CINQUETERRE

And for me, every day there is the knowledge that I have dozens of friends and loved ones (of course, my friends are my loved ones!) following me and cheering me on from the sidelines like my own personal stadium of devotees. I receive Facebook postings, emails, and text messages from people. I have a wonderful relationship with my little brother who I adore. He gave me this apartment to pursue my dream. I’m actually pursuing my dream. I’m near my extended family. I have a fallback position if Italy doesn’t pan out.

I have a number of friends visiting this year (don’t think that doesn’t resonate loudly for me). They all would like to see me which is flattering. I have an education. I have opportunity. I’m healthy. Small things happen all the time that encourage me. And I’ve lost weight!

I’m not saying this from a “look at me” position of self-aggrandizement. It’s more of a humble, head-hanging. Even though depression can be debilitating, there is still the fact that so much good is out there. So much good in my life. So much good in everyone’s life. In the midst of crisis and emotional devastation, there is help, hope and love. There is opportunity to learn, opportunity to help others and opportunity to make “lemons out of lemonade”.

I’ve been getting a bit down lately because I’m really thinking that I will be returning for good to Oregon in November. Yet, every so often, something happens that gives me a bit of hope. Something that will provide entrée to an income, thereby allowing me to remain. I have been prepared from the beginning that I might have to return, yet I would truly love to stay.

And today I heard from my brother who will be visiting northern Italy in late February. I might be heading up there and might end up in Switzerland for a couple of days. Today I also heard from his girlfriend who is trying to get me into the media in Lviv regarding my genealogy research. I also did a little research for a short weekend trip to San Marino which is only four hours away.

I’ve been surprised to find how comfortable I feel here. With every tutoring class I get a bit more confident. I’m confident about travel and taking care of myself. I’m looking forward to better weather when Italy’s indigenous scents burst forth and the languid lifestyle of la dolce vita becomes more ubiquitous and fluent.

These things also help to lift my spirits. They show progress. I’ve said before that, if I feel nothing is happening, it gets me down and I go places I shouldn’t. However, even when things seem stagnant or even negative, there’s still so much to anticipate.

And the seafood pasta I just ordered ranks high on the list.


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