Picking The Pasta

My nonni had a way of making people feel important. In many ways, a special gift she possessed. As a young boy, I remember thinking she was the sole person who actually listened to me. When your young that means a bunch, especially if your looking for a lending ear. When you grow and begin maturing, it means substantially more. She taught me that listening is vastly more important than talking. While our famous Sunday evening memories are engulfed with very talkative conversation, the most fluid and influential are unsurprisingly calm and quiet vignettes that stand the test of time.

7PM was the appointed meeting time at Nonni’s home. Every Sunday, all year. Two other very special people came, and we formed in many ways a bond that will never be broken. A past memory we were fortunate enough to be around for. If we were ignorant in the beginning to just how special this time would be, it became more apparent as Sundays went. The event gave me something to look forward to you. It gave me hope that in a rough week, Nonni’s was around the corner. Once in a while I would “accidentally” arrive early. Not too early,  but a mere 20 or so minutes prior.  Those 20 minutes were simply me talking and Nonni listening. She taught and told me without uttering a single syllable; listening is what matters.

It never failed, once the clock hit 7 and the three of us were assembled around the table, she would inevitably give the command. In a seemingly random order, one of us would be summoned to pick the pasta. Surely, a mundane action to anyone especially us, considering it happened every single Sunday. But to her, an important reminder for us that we were important. The command signified a pause in life. As soon as the order was given, it was ok to settle in. In many ways,  it was her saying sit down and relax. It was a subtle phrase that suddenly meant the world to me. Much like Nonni’s, the emotion changed from mundane to admiration.

Conversations were picked and plucked from many different worlds at Nonni’s table. Her participation varied and nearing the end of her life, she was reserved to just listening for the most part. I wouldn’t be so ignorant to think this wasn’t purposeful though. She was as much of the conversation quiet as she was vocal. She loved to just sit there and let us talk, mostly about subjects she had admittedly, absolute zero interest in. But even in the moment I assumed something deeper was happening.

It occurred to me after the fact that Nonni in many ways was an enabler. An enabler of this event for starts. It was in fact her who first invited us over, only to let us talk and converse about things she didn’t care about, yet endured the conversations. You see she didn’t care about the subjects of topic, or type of pasta we picked or anything for that matter. All she truly cared about was that we were there. And she did everything in her humble ways to make us feel welcome and significant. From varying bowl sizes according to appropriately sized eaters, to simply just listening about things she didn’t necessarily care about but knew we did. She was all about us, all of the time.

I think Nonni’s impact was so influential on me simply because she never flaunted her motives. She never needed credit for doing anything and she certainly wasn’t looking for it.  She was more invested in spending time with us, then projecting life lessons.

But the beautiful revelation of Sundays at Nonni’s, came to me after the fact. Like a great painting, being too close to something blurs the intended meaning. Nonni’s was always about life lessons and they were so effective because they were genuinely distributed.

You see Nonni always wanted to make one of us feel special, she always gave us all the time we needed. To talk amongst each other or simply listen to us individually, unconditionally. Not impending judgement, just lending an ear with input if we so desired.  She taught me, there’s a place for that in life. There’s a place called meekness that lives only when you realize a direct way to someones life is through their heart, not their head. Something Nonni did so well; just listen and invest in those you love. A great life lesson she distributed to me. Something I am forever grateful for and an area I continually try to improve in.

Towards the end of nonni’s life I came to find out something very interesting. It turned out, Nonni always knew who’s turn it was to pick the pasta. As weeks went by, she kept a record of it. It wasn’t a guess on her part. It was important to her; remembering the little details about loved ones in her life. But I cant help but wonder that she knew, one day we would understand and comprehend. Understand her quietness around the table.  Comprehend that listening is the best gift you can give someone. I cant help but think she knew as we grew older, that the purpose for coming to Nonni’s wasn’t at all to keep her company as we all thought. But for us to learn.

Learn how to one day let someone else pick the pasta.


Shackles, Chains & Facebook

Be honest with yourself and ask this simple question: “Are you a slave?”

a person who is the property of another and is forced to obey them.

“Property.” I like that word. Its bold, but honest. Lets take a look at that too.

a thing or things belonging to someone; possessions collectively.

Do you belong to someone or something? First, I think we have to really put a microscope on what makes us ourselves? Over my years of learning I’ve come to this realization: my time and attention make a big part of who I am. Those 2 attributes usually are well developed traits that tell you everything and anything you need to know about yourself. Its a scary, ‘look in the mirror’ analysis.

I guess we can land at these 2 questions: Where do you spend most of your time? How do you focus most of your attention? I can’t help but think the majority of us combine time and attention in a major way to glowing screens. But that’s ok, we’re not slaves to screens, We’ve already established what being a slave is: “A person who is property of something or someone who exhibits time and attention to a particular item with no self control.”

Oops. Well, this is awkward. That kind of sounds like most people’s relationship with Facebook. But we’re certainly not slaves to Facebook. That would be ridiculous. We perform self control. We demonstrate human qualities that enable us to use these devices at will. Simple. We are fine.

Wait… did I just hear a phone vibrate. Is it bothering you not to check? Of course not, you have self control. It’s just a phone right? OK, lets take a break so you can look at it. Just real quick. It will only be a second.

Wait, its been 15 minutes, Where did you go? I mean, physically your still here. But mentally, where did you go?

Does that sound familiar to anyone out there? Lets refer back to our trusty definitions. It did kind of feel like you were forced to obey that notification. A little scary yes, but you got this. Still plenty of control. You say it’s a balance that must be achieved. Well, I agree with that notion. The issue is, balance is not judged. Balance is interpreted, it’s a vague line in the sand that waves of bad habit slowly wash away. Sure, you could sort of make out the line. But you can also pretend where you would like the line to be.

Enter the modern day slaves and Facebook, your owner. The ever-moving, pretend line where one minute we are secretly stalking only God knows, and the next we are posting some fake highlight reel photos of your life. You guys know this. Facebook is hardly real life, its more like a whimsical fictitious narrative. It sounds exhausting because it is and the majority of Americans have bought in. They’ve bought into the competitiveness of judgmental living and faux comparisons to their “friends.” They’ve bought into the notion that you could live on your own terms without face to face interaction and be better off for it. They’ve bought into their own slavery.

To be honest, it’s actually not so difficult to understand why.

Remember that line I was talking about earlier? The balance line? What I didn’t mention is balance is only achieved through some sort of discipline. Am I underselling the common person’s discipline? No, I’m certainly not. I had Facebook a long time ago. But when I was uncontrollably checking in and being the least productive human I could possibly be, it took more than discipline to leave it. Its obvious the majority doesn’t have that want or will. Look no further than their contentment with launching the Facebook app every 30 minutes and opening the door to a toxic hellstew. In other words, the majority are content to spend their time and attention to a pastime that fuels nothing but judgment and wrong motives.

You could say this post is crazy and I’m overreaching. I’ve thought about that a lot while writing. I’ve thought about the few who could execute Facebook properly and not abuse the service. Those people inspire me. Truth is, I have a place deep down in my heart for those who are “slaves” or who suffer from any form of “addiction.” So I guess that outweighed any other aspect of publishing this. Maybe I look at it like a call to help. Maybe if one person could make a change and release themselves from Facebook’s grasp, this all would have been worth it.

Let me explain simply, to be locked into your phone or social network the majority of time is bad no matter how you slice it. It’s really is no shock that recent studies have tagged Facebook with an unhealthy label.

Don’t believe me? That’s fair.

Do you believe them?

Exploring Facebook Depression

Facebook Is Bad For Your Health

Rigorous Study Confirms Facebook is Bad for You

Does Facebook Make Us Unhappy?

How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy

The Anxiety Of Facebook

Facebook, Linked to Depression in Studies, Plans Expanded AI to Prevent Suicides

Facebook Lurking Makes You Miserable

Facebook Confirms it Tracks Mouse Movement

Still don’t believe them? How about Facebook itself?

Facebook Admits Social Media Can Harm Your Mental Health

I hope that would be enough proof for something we all really know deep down is true. As many studies have suggested, the Facebook epidemic has such strong similarities to drug abuse and food addiction. Both are generally known to be bad for you, but both are performed at will by their participant as though there are no repercussions. It’s sad, really. I mean, tragic even. If we won’t help ourselves by having and executing the knowledge of whats best and not best for us, what about others? Thats my concern.

Checkmate. What about our kids? What about the next generation of humans? Do they deserve attention? Or do they deserve your leftovers? Did they choose to be born to enslaved parents who hang on every noise their phone makes? Truth is, no one has any idea what the repercussions will be for such a vast social network simply because a company of Facebook’s caliber has never existed before. Beyond the obvious privacy concerns alone, we must be proactive in preserving our attention and time. Because if you take time and attention away, what more are we than slaves to the most attractive, eye dazzling distraction?

Kind of sounds like present times.

I’m under the belief our kids deserve more. They deserve more than second placers to fake highlight reels, “likes” and status updates. They deserve more than parents who are slaves to attention and self gloat. Most importantly, they deserve more than to inherit an enslaved life. They deserve to make that choice on their own. Lets pray they can make the right choice.

If you take nothing else from this post, please understand this simple concept: if you’re attention is what molds you, if you agree attention is your most valuable asset (because Facebook most def. does) then do your self a favor and from now on, treat your attention with respect.

Simply put: 15 years ago, the internet was an escape from the real world. Now, the real world is an escape from Facebook. That sounds like modern day slavery to me.

Solution: Delete Facebook.