Naturally. Or is it?
Originated in Italy, in May 2012
“Don’t you need my credit card or something” I ask the guy behind the counter.
“Of course. Later.”
His tone and facial expression communicate more than the two words he just uttered. Like “Relax, go check the car, we will take care of payment later.”
We are in Venice, at PIazzale Roma, the only place where you can get a car to drive out of the city. It is raining. We have been carrying our luggage. It is me, my 73 year old mother and my 11 months old baby. And the car place does not have a correct car seat for her - even though they said they would. So naturally, I am agitated.
To the guy behind the counter it seems absolutely unnaturally. His whole being communicates: “We have a car for you. We have a car seat for you. It is a gorgeous rainy day outside. Life is beautiful. Why are you so worried?”
That is exactly why I love Italy. It relaxes me. It is like the concept of worrying is foreign to this guy. At least, about this kind of things. He is very sincere in this communication. Pleasantly caring, and not at all judgemental.
If you don’t like the car seat, you can go to the airport location - and exchange it.
So, we take the time to check the car, confirm that the seat can not go rear-facing (which is the law where I live, and a security concern for me, after taking all the first aid classes), put my baby in, adjust the straps to be tight enough (which I could not do by myself for some reason), gradually manage to fit our luggage, which, together with the stroller did not fit in the trunk… The credit card is given to the guy :).
Finally, I sit at the wheel. The whole thing did not aggravate me - it relaxed me. I feel weirdly calm. So calm, that when I turn the car on and discover that the pedals and the gear shift look… different, and realize that this is a standard, stick shift car, which I never really driven and did not expect…
I feel completely confident. Yes I have the baby forward facing in my rear seat. Yes it is a standard car, it may stall, and we have quite a way to go. We will be fine. I did drive stick shift in my driving lessons, 17 years ago. I will handle it.
So what is natural? Not too long ago I learned to realize that what is natural for one person may not be natural to somebody else. Natural comes from what we become conditioned to - and that is different for different people.
It is calming and liberating to experience this is practice - to see that some people will not worry about things like this. I am sure Italians worry about a lot of things - just not this. Not something I am used to worrying about.
It is even more liberating to connect with that - and let the worry go.
And so I drive. I take my mom and my baby, drive us all to Florence, and then later to Rome, in this stick shift car, through so many round-abouts so customary in Italy. We stall, we laugh, we get lost and ask for directions. We enjoy the tunnels, the fog, and the view. And I enjoy shifting the gears.
Thank you Italy.