Don’t wait until you’re in a cemetery to enjoy the view.

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”

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Enjoy Ludovico Einaudi’s “I Giorni” while you read my post. In Italian, I giorni translates into “the days”, and this song has become my anthem for living my best life everyday in Italy.

August is vacation month in Italy. Most of the local businesses slow or shut down until September. The Italiani plan all year where they will travel this month, and the cities empty of locals who take several weeks off and head to the seaside. My Italiano and I planned to go to the Aeolian Islands (Le Isole Eolie) off the coast of Sicilia for the entire month. We booked in March, on the assumption that we would still be a “we” come August. Our assumption was right.

We drove from Torino to just outside Firenze. We stopped in Toscana for four nights for a reunion with my friend Maurine, who lives in France, and her family from California. We had a wonderful time reconnecting and blending our different lives. 

It was good to have a longtime friend in my company that week. July 28 marked the anniversary of when Darin and I met 23 years ago. We always celebrated that day above all others, and it could have been an emotional maelstrom. I found myself in the medieval town of San Gimignano, with not only the Italiano and Maurine, but also English friends I had met the previous year. In the midst of the reminder that something was taken away, something was given that day–the chance to honor love, celebrate a reunion and enjoy new friends.

After Toscana, we headed to Roma to see one of my favorite pianists, Ludovico Einaudi, playing at Terme di Caracalla. We listened to his music under the stars while my mind churned with how much things have changed in my life, both bitterly and sweetly. The ebb and flow of give and get throughout life. I could see it in dozens of distinct scenes and images while the music played in the background. 

For some reason when memories rush in to my head they often appear as snow globes. Little stories inside glass bubbles depicting a moment in time. We all have our snow globes in life. Obviously, there are happy moments–the times when we are full of joy. Then there are the dark globes, with gloomy backdrops and snow falling on an image that you never want to revisit. You shake them up in your mind over and over hoping the swirling snowflakes show a better picture.

I have started to understand that the darkest involve this underlying feeling of sadness combined with shame. Those memories where I am troubled with the result and saddened by how I handled it at the time. Times when I regret that I didn’t have the broader perspective of what was happening. These are the most difficult, because I know they cannot be redone. They just are and will always be a scar forever present, possibly fading over time. It seems grief has the license to open up your entire life in a way that reveals everything. It can be quite overwhelming feeling stuck in the weeds of your own life in experiences playing out again and again, without the ability to rewrite the ending. Somehow you push forward.

We arrived in Sicilia the following evening after a seven-hour ferry ride, complete with winds, rough seas, and a host of sick passengers heaving into plastic bags. Like yoga and farting, sea crossings and vomiting go hand and hand.

The seas finally calmed as we approached the first of the seven Aeolian Islands, Stromboli. I could feel my spirits lift with the island’s gentle reveal, and I began to sense that my vacation and a much needed pause to reconcile life’s snow globes had arrived. 

We had four more ferry stops until we disembarked in Lipari. We met our host, Claudia, who took us to our house in the town of Pianoconte, one thousand feet above the sea. She gave us the ins and outs of the house, local tips on the town, and finally recommended we check out the local cemetery for its view over the island. I always had a fascination with European cemeteries and the history they stand guard over with their inhabitants. I took note and immediately put it on my list for exploration in the coming days.

Over the first week, I had been thinking a lot about my perspective of life and all of these damn snow globes in my head. I knew there was a thought grinding away at me that I needed to listen to in order to move forward. I wasn’t giving it the attention it demanded. Finally, I did.

In the peak of the afternoon heat and humidity, I took a much-needed walk. I continued for about 25 minutes, and just when the heat was telling me to turn around, I noticed a sign pointing to the “cimitero” or cemetery. I thought it couldn’t be much further, so I decided to push forward. 

Soon I could see the outer walls of the cemetery approaching. There was construction underway to expand it. I was being careful to avoid the debris when I turned the corner and just froze. Breathless, hot, sweaty and consumed by wonder, I stood. I was able to hold a picture of it in my mind, close my eyes, and listen. Here’s what came to me.

The view from the cemetery in Pianoconte, Lipari, Sicilia. The island of Vulcano is in the middleground, and in the upper right corner Mount Etna is visible on the main island of Sicilia.

It is easy to get caught up in the details of everything you have experienced, to beat yourself up over the things you regret, while forgetting those moments when you acted in a beautiful way. Shame is not an emotion that needs to be cultivated in your garden. The world has a never-ending supply of that. You have to step up to the balcony of life and see the entire extravaganza of things that make it what it is. Keep those snow globes on the shelf in your library of life. You can always visit them when you need to see the mix of experiences that have brought you to this point, stronger, wiser and more authentic. Be grateful.

So on the balcony of Lipari, near the place where physical lives have their final rest, I was offered the clearest message, “Don’t wait until you’re in a cemetery to enjoy the view.”

I want to dedicate this post to a man who recently transitioned from this life. He was a friend of the family when I was young, and a wonderful role model for being a great dad, husband, and friend. Godspeed your journey. Well done, George!

If you enjoyed this posting, and you feel it would benefit others, please share it with others on your social media page by clicking the share button just above the title of this posting. Thanks for following The Spaghetti Diaries.

26 thoughts on “Don’t wait until you’re in a cemetery to enjoy the view.

  1. Dear fellow adventurous spirt, I love your snow globe analogy. How wonderful for me to have moved from your California globe to your European globe! And, that we get to share this new life!

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    1. Thank you awesome adventurer! It is wonderful that our globes are in the same continent. Here is to our new lives!

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  2. Beautifully written Luke…I love your honesty and willingness to share your feelings with all of us. The snow globe analogy makes perfect sense! xo

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    1. Cheryl, thank you so much. At this point in life, I feel like one of the best things I can offer to everyone is only honesty. Sharing my feelings helps me not only process through them myself, but I hope others get the same “a-ha” moments I do. And yes, snow globes!! Who would have thought life would manifest those in your head 🙂 Thank you again for following and your comments. XOXO

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  3. Claudia e Ludovica August 9, 2019 — 1:44 pm

    Thank you for these precious, beautiful words. This place is a special gem in our hearts!

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    1. Claudia & Ludovica, grazie per le gentili parole. È vero, questa isola è un bell posto per la tranquillità! -Luke

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  4. Just beautiful. You make such a complex human truth feel so simple. I will think of this analogy often. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Maris, thank you for writing. At the time it didn’t seem so complex, but once I laid them sorted out, my mind was floating with snow globes. I am still trying to put them all back on the shelf. 🙂 I guess we all are at some level. Best to you!

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  5. Beautifully expressed and written as usual. Great analogy and perspective with the snow globes. Your new adventures will continue to feed your heart, soul and mind with new memories and snow globes. So happy for you and your life. Love you and I’m very proud of your strength.

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    1. Thank you!!! We have a lot of happy snow globes together. Those make me smile often. We have much to catch up on and I am sending you lots of love! I am happy for you as well. Love you and thank you for the gift of your strength. ❤️

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  6. You have such a gift for words that can capture a feeling so beautifully! Another incredible read! Baci da Calabria!

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    1. LuLu!! Thank you! Your words are a gift to my soul. Baci da Sicilia..we’re so close – I could almost see Calabria!!

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  7. Really beautiful! You ARE a writer!!!! I’m happy for you NOW and happy for your shelf of snow globes when you want to view them. I love reading these and wish you safe and continued travels! I assure you your missing nothing good happening here!!!

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    1. Thank you mio amico! I always cringe when I hit the “publish” button..thinking..there goes another one! I do so much appreciate when people respond well – knowing that there is so much we all share in our feelings. I’m happy for me too and you! I do hope those snow globes end up in an attic at some point, under the high-school yearbooks and Boy Scouts awards…oh wait, I was never in Boy Scouts. You get my point 🙂 And yes, it seems things are hectic across the pond, best that io mangio cannoli in Sicilia!

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  8. Joyce Gallagher August 9, 2019 — 8:37 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful blogs. That have made me laugh out loud and have brought a few tears. I have travelled Italy through your eyes and words. Thank you for sharing. I was in Italy once when we were stationed in Germany. We took a drive through Austria and entered Brennero, Italy at the Brenner Pass. It was a wonderful experience. I look forward to your next adventure. We’ll see you and Alessandro in December. The fried chicken is on the menu. Lol

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    1. Joyce…so good to see your comments. You blazed some trails in Europe for me, and I would so enjoy a roadtrip with you in Austria and Switzerland! Thanks for following along..and Alessandro is destined to have the best southern fried chicken. Thank you for volunteering and I cannot wait to see you in December. 🤗🤗😘😘

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  9. Paul Vaunhefflyunn August 9, 2019 — 9:53 pm

    I share similar sentiments as others above – and thanks for sharing. Wow….you really have a gift for bringing the “reader” into the story with your words…very captivating (the music is a great touch)! Love the Snow Globe analogies as well….especially the part of about “putting them on the shelf of life” and referring back to them for wisdom – it’s a great way to think about it and to remember them. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Paul, so happy we reconnected and that you are enjoying the blog. I think the best thing I can do to keep moving forward, is bring my extended friends and family along with me. I am glad you enjoyed Einaudi’s sound track. It is a beautiful piece.

      And yes, my shelf of life better be able to hold a lot of weight 😀. Best to you and your family!

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  10. Christi Alexander August 10, 2019 — 4:59 am

    Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration for me.

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  11. Luke, thank you for Spaghetti Diaries. I am enjoying reading each chapter. You have a way of putting into words the things we all go thru in life. I like the snow globe analogy and agree that we need to eventually put them on the shelf. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and adventures.

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    1. Linda, thank you so much for your comments and for reading the stories. I appreciate your kindness and compliments. The snow globes seem like bubbles of stories that combined tell a person’s life. The good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. But if there weren’t some ugly ones, the good ones would not be so sweet and their effect perhaps diminished. I look forward to bringing you along and thanks again for taking the time to comment. It means a lot when readers engage with me.

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  12. My dear friend, I love the snow globe analogy. I never really thought of it that way, but it’s a perfect description of taking memories off the shelf and reliving them. For me, when reflecting on the painful, shameful times that are hard to “shake” I always remind myself if I would have changed the outcome, maybe I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today? So, I try to embrace the lesson taught, remember whatever the experience was, it was part of the journey and peacefully put that globe back on the shelf. As always, your adventures and perspectives warm my heart. Enjoy your holiday month! Xo

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    1. Vicki, thank you! What is about memories, particularly the not so great ones, that crave our attention? You are absolutely right, the entire spectrum of events is what got us to where we are today, and if we are happy, then you can’t pick and choose the path again, but just appreciate the present and who we have become. I love embracing the lessons, or at least I try to believe that I do, but darn those lessons are tough sometimes. Thank you for your comments and I am happy that my words give your heart some warmth. That’s all I can ask for from this endeavor. Happily, Luke

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  13. sharon.sanko123 August 10, 2019 — 4:18 pm

    Luke. I just read your post in its entirety. I have to say thank you. I had been going through what I imagined you would say is a dark moment in my snow globe. Your writings came at just the right time and yet again you have helped me through a moment in my life that I want to put on a Shelf and never look at it again. What a marvelous idea you have to put the good and happy snow globes in the present and the bad to put away and only look at when you want to. I am so happy for you that you are continuing your life in joy. I’m feeling very blessed that I have you as a friend that puts a positive note on every aspect of life. God bless you and I’m looking forward to your next writing. be at peace my friend and continue enjoying your life.Sent from my Samsung Galaxy , an AT&T LTE smartphone

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  14. As always, such a beautiful and thoughtful piece. I love reading your posts. I, too, am impressed by your snow globe analogy, but I have to admit that I laughed right out loud about the yoga:farting::sea crossing:vomiting. You really do have a way with words! Enjoy your trip!

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    1. V, Thank you for you comments. I’m happy that you enjoy reading them – and yes, the snow globes seem to resonate with many people. We all have them, little dioramas of our life. They are memorable experiences yearning to be admired again and again.

      And you know me well enough to know I like to put a little humor along they way. 😀

      Thanks for continuing to support my writing – I always smile when I see your posts! Best to you..sending love to you and the family!

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