The Daily WORD is ATTRAVERSIAMO
(Discovered in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love)
Attraversiamo is Italian for “Let’s cross over,” usually meaning the street. What a melodic – and misleading — word for crossing a Roman road. Those zebra strips declare that pedestrians have the right of way. Italians confidently step into six lanes of Smart cars, taxis, Vespas, busses, trucks, gargantuan tour busses and expect traffic to eddy around them, for no one ever actually stops – particularly the pedestrian. Her part of the bargain is to walk at a steady, confident pace while drivers zoom around her.
I followed nuns and seminarians across frenetic Roman streets for three weeks. Then, one day I realized I was confidently crossing alone. After I crossed over, I hummed Pomp and Circumstance. I had graduated into the class of those who cross Roman roads.
Crossing over from fulltime employment to this pastiche of a life took five years and was as fraught with hazards as Roman roads. Often, I stood in the middle of my passage like a deer in the headlights, splattered by my own insults: you’re lazy…who do you think you are …you’re crazy. I avoided these annihilating thoughts by going to Italy with a purpose: travel writing; going to India with a purpose: philanthropic; going on a cruise with a purpose: vacation; or simply going to bed and hiding under the duvet. Every morning I woke up wondering if I this were the day I would reach the acceptance stage of being road kill.
This five-year journey may have been easier if I had not thought of it as an easy right turn in my life instead of a passage. All life passages are difficult and dangerous. Safe passage requires a confident, unbroken stride, knowing dangers are looming but, incredibly, will flow around you given enough faith in yourself.
Stop and you are dead – or wounded – or at the least stuck in a disturbing place.
Thanks, Gilbert. I’m not humming Pomp and Circumstance, but I’m no longer a stunned deer waiting to be flattened by a tour bus. Most of the time I have an empowering feeling of having crossed over. But if someone – even God – asks, “Attraversiamo?,” I will say, “No thanks, I need some easy right turns for awhile.”