Learning Italian


Margherita De Stradis, Teacher Extraordinaire!

Today was my final class of two weeks in Italian language class here in Lecce, “the Florence of Southern Italy.” I found that the sensation of making great mental effort brings both the comfort and the discomfort of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g.

For me the effort is one of pushing past habits of speech (English and Spanish), that is, disregarding habitual words that want to spill from a thought– to reach, instead, for new words, and make new mental pathways for brand new constructi0ns of thought. You know how good you feel after some physical stretching has been accomplished? That sense of ease and expansion and spaciousness? That’s the satisfaction for me of this learning, of this deliberate lengthening of mental ‘muscles’ in order to grow my emotional flexibility and my range of (communicative) motion. Ahh.

There were days when the stretching was highly uncomfortable too, of course; classes when my brain felt all the opposite of elastic, and not even an expressino could make my mouth work the words. It helped, especially those days,  to know that the kind of world I want is one is which we all make that effort to extend past our little selves, our habitual selves. Language is one way but there are myriad ways to stretch out our hands to one another and our minds to the great cosmos in which we spin. If you get a little dizzy once in a while, don’t worry, that’s part of living large.

photography by Susa Silvermarie

Inside Out Stretch by Maria Rossini

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