I took some time off during the weekend and went to see Rome. It was only a four day trip and half of that was mostly spent on driving. It was indeed a short, sweet little vacation and it was a reminder that my life is most certainly not the standard for … anything.
Rome really is awe-inspiring. It is so in so many ways and most of the time I spent there I was shocked by something. I was shocked by the state of their roads. I was shocked by the surprising amount of garbage by the side of those roads. And I was most definitely shocked by their amazing history and architecture. I was shocked by how they drive. I was shocked by how little fu** they give about anything. I was shocked at how many polar-opposites they live with and do so comfortably. I was shocked at how fully they seem to choose to live.
I am a person who likes to understand. I am also someone who likes structure. Rules help me with all of that and I guess that’s why I’ve come to like and respect them. I’ve been to Italy before and I saw what their driving is like, but I guess my memory mellowed it out a little. It’s probably good it did. I don’t think I could have returned otherwise. You see, rules, on which I so much rely on, seem to vanish as soon as you cross the border. As soon as we came into Italy, all I was able to be aware off is complete and utter chaos.
Rules and structure are not just something I like. They are also what helps me cope with anxiety and depression. I focus a lot on what is firm and on what I can rely on to prevent panic attacks, to help with social anxiety and to stay centred. When driving through Italy I felt the outside threads of reliability melt off and suddenly there was only fear. Those otherwise lovely people drive like complete maniacs! I couldn’t get a grasp on reality long enough to observe what the rules were and what to go by. I felt there was nothing to cling on to at moments. Everywhere I looked there was a car, a motorbike, a cyclist, a pedestrian … going, going, going. They surpass you on your left, then someone else surpasses you on the right, someone else is honking like crazy, and another is verbally sending you off to where the Sun don’t shine. Or they send your mother there. Or both.
We walked everywhere. When I say “walked”, I mean “ran for our lives” most of the time. We ran so much it became a running joke (sorry, I had to slap that one in there).
It took a little bit of a toll on my psyche, I won’t lie. I couldn’t catch my breath, it was just go, go, go. After all this walking, running, running away from something and so on and so forth, we finally gave up and took a cab to where we were staying. It would have otherwise been a one hour walk to our place and we just simply too tired.
It was a ten minute ride. The taxi driver was a nice enough guy, in his early forties. We strapped in and laughed at what we knew was going to happen. He, of course, drove like the rest of them: like a complete lunatic. All the while he was doing that, I heard him softly speaking on his phone to someone. He drove like a maniac, but spoke like he was relaxing. Just chillin’. If I’d have seen him in his cab from the outside, I would have figured this guy’s blood-pressure was through the roof and he was on the verge of having a stroke. But no. He was as cool as a cucumber.
This got me thinking: I always internalise stuff too much. Why can’t I be more like the taxi driver … or all drivers in Italy? Why can’t I be the calm in the storm? I know it’s up to me to react and I tend to react sometimes in the most self-stabbing manner. Sure, I don’t want to cause any sort of storms and make other people’s lives harder. but I also want to be at peace when storms hit. And hit they do.
So thank you, you crazy, lovely people of Italy. You have reminded me that I can be a little hustler of hectic peace: just ride out the storm and not get caught up in it. Well done, Italy!