Il Dolce Far Niente
Margaret Hughes Vath
Georgia State University
School of Law
Ah, the sweetness of doing nothing. A common
Italian idiom made popular by author Elizabeth
Gilbert’s international bestselling memoir Eat
Pray Love. In 2006, while Gilbert’s book was
flying off the shelves and reportedly inspiring
hundreds of people to embark on spiritual jour-
neys, I was beginning a journey of my own.
About a year after returning to my busy and
demanding law firm practice after having a baby,
“In our overscheduled
and harried lives,
is there even an
opportunity to achieve
a state of stillness, of
calmness, of serenity?”
I began to revisit my life and career priorities.
It was then I made the exhilarating, but mildly
terrifying, decision to make a dramatic change.
In 2006, I moved away from a lucrative law prac-
tice and into the less profitable, but immensely
fulfilling world of academia.
This type of drastic, tectonic shift isn’t always
necessary, of course. Moves can, and possibly
should, be made incrementally. Small adjust-
ments in our mindsets and fine tuning in our
actions are often the most effective and perma-
nent ways to make positive changes in our lives.
Perhaps infusing some time for “nothing” into
our days is exactly what we need.
In our overscheduled and harried lives, is there
even an opportunity to achieve a state of stillness,
of calmness, of serenity? Even for a moment?
I require my now-teenage son to do this mul-
tiple times a day, but I often forget to require it
of myself. To be sure, unplugging from email,