Tales of a wandering lesbian

I’m listening, I’m listening.

Have you read the book “The Alchemist”? Several people have been telling me to read it for a number of years. On my trip home to Idaho before I struck out to Italy, my sister handed it to me. It was one of those rare moments when I decided to do a bit of reading for pleasure. After the first chapter I realized that I’d tried to read the book before.  That time I ended up putting it down somewhere, where it stayed. This time, however, the book grabbed hold, and I spent the next day absorbed in it.

Somewhere toward the end, the boy in the story makes a deal with his heart, that if his heart would stop protecting itself by making him fearful of everything, he would listen to it, and really hear the messages it was sending.

I liked that idea very much, so I made the same deal with my heart. If I could be released from the daily doubts that cluttered my heart, I would listen to the little voice that whispers advice. So far it’s worked fairly well. The crippling self-doubt I’ve felt in the past is, for the most part, gone, and I’m listening and hearing. Sometimes, however, the little voice needs to yell a little to be heard over the excitement that can distract me. Today was one of those days.

My friend Franca , who is the regional secretary for the largest labor union in Italy, invited me to attend the sindacato manifestazione. Best I can tell, it’s a million person rally in Rome for the rights of workers (constitutionally guaranteed). Coolness. But a little voice wasn’t so sure. Damn. Really? But it’s a huge political rally IN ROME! I put in motion plans to go. I asked Franca for details and looked up the train schedule while cooking lunch. I’d meant to ask my friend Frank for his thoughts about the rally, but hadn’t. Maybe I’d do that in a bit…

When you’re tasting tubular pasta to see if it’s done, make sure there’s not scalding hot water hiding inside. This is a good tip, and one I shouldn’t have needed. The hot water shot into my mouth and onto my lip and chin, painting a great red stripe down my face. Damn. That sucked.

The pasta wasn’t done, so while I let it boil a bit more, I went to take care of a stray whisker (yup). I reached into my bag, feeling for the tweezers, and found a razor with its cover askew. What in the world is that doing there? It took a moment for the blood to come to the surface of my knuckle. Looking down at my red thumb I was a little miffed. What the F was going on? (Please pardon my abbreviation.)

I wrapped up my thumb and hurried back to the table to read about the rally on the union website, throwing myself into the chair. SMACK!!! I rammed my kneecap straight into the table leg – hard. Are you joking me about this?

Over the last year I’ve really tried to listen to the cues I’m being given. Today, it seems that the little voice was tired of being ignored. It had gone from an uncomfortable whisper to a full out scream. So I sat back. “What? Just what?” I was a little impatient. “Don’t go.” It wasn’t the answer I wanted. So the rational part of me emailed Frank, my local political expert, to see if I was missing something on the surface of the situation. It was totally unfair to pit him against the little voice, but he had the answer I wanted. And he had an invitation. Come to coffee and meet another writer/political thinker.

I sent a confirmation text to Franca to see if I could crash at her place after the rally, and I grabbed the car keys. I’m really lucky the little voice didn’t crash a meteor into the car on my way to Barga.

Still, I had a nice drive up, found a parking spot and managed to locate the café where Frank and Tom were sitting. It turns out that Tom really is the brilliant political thinker that Frank described. In the 5 minutes I had between Frank’s invite and leaving the house, I was able to do a quick Google search and read a piece Tom had written for the Huffington Post regarding health care. The next hour or so was consumed by rabid discussion of foreign policy, sprinkled with the niceties afforded a stranger. The guys, who clearly walk the same intricate paths they walked today with some sort of regularity, and had to keep each other at bay with “now, wait” and “let me finish,” were generous when it came to listening to the views of a newcomer. They sneered only slightly at the hyper-optimistic policy suggestions I’m prone to give.

When I left the evening it was with an updated understanding of US policy in Afghanistan, a firmed up concept for my next post, and another really interesting contact – something I would have missed out on if I hadn’t emailed Frank to ask his opinion regarding the rally.

And the little voice was quiet again. While I was sitting with Tom and Frank, I’d received a text from Franca. Giovanna’s mom was in town, so there was no place to stay after the rally. We’d have to try for next time. It made me smile.  Now I’ll have the weekend to nurse my face, thumb and knee. And to practice my listening.

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November 15, 2009   3 Comments