Progress?

Most people view growing up as some kind of linear curve where your experiences build upon each other and as such you steadily develop and progress. People forget this development and progression is rooted in context and only when you truly have a goal in mind can you begin to measure and assess this fluid idea of progress. One of the best books I've stumbled through this year is called Essentialism which explores these ideas.


Particularly in these last 7 months I've felt I've made a little progress in several small areas. My italian has improved, I play lacrosse at a competitive level, I've lived more independently than ever before, I've been able to get to know and understand this great city of Rome and I have new appreciation for art and more generally the role of the arts in the world. Despite the above, I feel it pales in comparison to what could be achieved with a clearer goal and direction.

I think my threshold for having a worthy purpose is too high that it can inhibit any kind of action at all. It's reminiscent of Sylvia Plath's haunting novel 'The Bell Jar' where Esther describes a vision of her being caught in a crook of a fig tree unable to choose mutually exclusive journey to take.

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” 

While caught up in the relative structure of university, choice and direction are trammelled and so choices right now are less polarised. On one level, existential questioning is essential otherwise you will be purely a reflection of your environment with no sense of autonomy. Leaning too far the other way harms the prospects of a life rooted in reality. I value proactiveness, initiative and creativity and would want these to firmly accompany any period of thought and reflection.

It's been a couple of months since I last posted on here and in that time I've been fortunate to explore some new parts of Italy and Rome. A little trip to the region of Veneto surpassed expectations and I can see myself returning to Lake Garda many times in the future. Tivoli is one of the most spectacular day trips from Rome with the beautiful Villa D'este, Villa Adriana and the waterfalls at Villa Gregoriana. There's still a couple of things I need to see particularly palazzo valentini and villa Borghese.


Since illness in January and February, I've recovered greatly during March and April and I've appreciated many of my friends coming out to visit during this time. Reflecting back on priorities, maintaining strong relationships with friends is something I always want to prioritise wherever I am in the world and I've enjoyed hosting many people in my little studio flat/

The UK election last week clogged up a lot of my news feed recently and politics is something I like to read about but would hesitantly openly discuss. One of the best articles spawned out of post election mayhem was actually found on The Tab by this years University Challenge hero Ted Loveday. It's natural for people to find difficulty in empathising with an opposing view when each side whips up hyperbole about each other's 'destructive' plans. Despite that difficulty, empathy is essential and tones of self-righteousness are not helpful, particularly in a political sphere

I have just over 6 weeks to go and both exams for uni and the Italian Cup finals for lacrosse are looming large.

A dopo, TJP

Elsewhere:
A piece about my time in Pisco for a friends website
A little review for The Italian Insider
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