Years ago, as I was waiting to change trains in Naples a group of young Neapolitan boys came up to me and politely asked if I would explain a song they’d just heard on the jukebox — it was called “Let it Be.” What was this phrase “Let it Be?” Che vuol dire, exactly, they wanted to know. They listened most intently as I tried to explain. Then, remembering a refrain that my grandparents uttered more times than I can count, I told them in dialect: lascia sta’.
Lascia stare? Leave it alone? They echoed the phrase in disbelief. They still weren’t satisfied. Of course, it wasn’t the meaning of those words that perplexed them; it was that anyone would write an entire song about something that should be so instinctual. But of course you need to let things go, move on, turn the page. Isn’t that just logical?
When I was growing up, I often lost patience when the elders in my family refrained from getting all excited over what they deemed to be my non-urgent problems. What if I didn’t make the cheerleading team? What if the TV didn’t work when my favorite program went on? What would I say to the kids on the other side of town who made jokes about the Italians as I walked by? Che devo fare? I needed to do something right away!
When we can change our circumstances for the better, we should take action to make the necessary changes. Living in a continual state of urgency, however, when there is nothing we can do about something, is like poisoning both your body and your mind. We are bombarded with overt and covert messages telling us that with enough sweat and toil, we can fix any situation. Sometimes, however, we can’t, and the solution is to let it go and refocus. Just “let it be” and redirect your energies to something that will foster your well-being. The dolce vita perspective sometimes takes the form of that placid advice I often heard growing up: lascia stare, leave it alone. I know that letting go , for me, was a thousand times harder than doing something — anything. Yet as the challenges in my life got larger, what I have come to know for sure, is that sometimes letting go and taking a step forward is the very (in)action that brings about an extraordinary turning point.
If you can’t change it, just lascia stare — let it be. Then refocus on something that brings you well-being