This blog began in 2008 as a travel blog while I travelled to a small town in Italy to sing opera for five weeks. It was on that trip that I finally learned the value of the riposo, the Italian mid-day break (similar to a siesta). This was mainly because our classes started at 8:30, but our shows in the evening started at 9:00, so those naps were necessary.
I just returned from two weeks in Sicily, this time on true vacation, and once again I fell into the rhythm of resting in the afternoon, though in truth the entire trip was a bit of a riposo.
Having plowed through my massive to-do list before we left, I didn’t have to deal with replying to emails or working on projects while we were away. I wasn’t singing or teaching or writing or conducting. This was true leisure, and the only demands on me were my appetite and the cultural curiosity that drew us frequently out of our hotel rooms and into the vibrant streets of Cefalu, Siracusa, and Catania.
About halfway through the trip I started to miss being creative. I was dreaming of the practice room. I wrote down ideas for a half dozen blog posts. I even started thinking of projects for September.
Recently Lin Manuel Miranda gave an interview with the Huffington Post in which he made a clear connection between rest and creativity:
“It’s no accident that the best idea I’ve ever had in my life — perhaps maybe the best one I’ll ever have in my life — came to me on vacation,” Miranda said.
“When I picked up Ron Chernow’s biography [of Hamilton], I was at a resort in Mexico on my first vacation from ‘In The Heights,’ which I had been working seven years to bring to Broadway,” he continued. “The moment my brain got a moment’s rest, ‘Hamilton’ walked into it.”
I probably won’t have such a stroke of genius after my break, and I’m not suggesting that going to a resort or a foreign country is the only way to be creative. But know this: succumbing to leisure (for that is what it feels like for those of us who love to work!) will remind you that you are meant to be creative. It will free your mind to fixate on people and stories and beauty that inspires you. And it might even convince you that when you get back to work, you will be able to do all the things you imagine.
For now, I’m back to creating, but I am so glad for the break.
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