The Joy of Ferragosto and Life With Intention

Editor’s note: this post was originally published on Medium.com

It’s mid-August. In Italy, the country is on holiday. It’s planned. It’s anticipated, and it’s savored. The pinnacle of the month-long kick-back is August 15th, the public holiday of Ferragosto.

Being Italian, it conveniently coincides with the important Catholic feast of the Assumption of St. Mary.

Long before the Church took control of the calendar and the holidays, the Roman emperor Augustus introduced, in18 BCE, Feriae Augusti a late summer break after the extended period of intense summer labor in the fields.

A planned break after long labor: that’s living by intention.

Apparently not everyone can take August off. But everyone CAN (and does) take a day — August 15th — for a long lunch, copious wine and rest. That’s Ferragosto

In 2008, Italian filmmaker Gianni DiGregorio won “Best First Film” at the Venice Film Festival for this charming portrayal of a man caught in the vise of Ferragosto gone wrong.

In this spoof, the middle-aged son of an aging aristocratic mother is conned into looking after the mums of various others on this holiest of summer holidays.

Here’s the trailer.   And here’s how you can enjoy “Mid-August Lunch” yourself.

(affiliate link)

Everyone in the film, it appears, is living with Intention. Except for our hero, and yet, even he managed it in the end.


In America, we react to August and to life.

We Americans tend to take the latter half of August as it comes, with an eye to Autumn. We tend to start thinking about back-to-school, maybe the last beach trip. We tend to react to the close of summer, rather than celebrate it.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, we’ve circled back to summer: school has already started, the consumption cycle is all about Autumn. It’s the last hurrah. But still, it’s a reaction. It’s not living by intention.

We’re always forward-looking and reacting to what comes our way. Do we plan? Yes, for retirement, children’s education, a house, a car.

But I posit that as a society, we’re lousy at living by Intention.

The commitment to living by Intention

I’ve been troubled by this flopping around, reacting to everything. My life seems chaotic, putting out fires — metaphorically — in every aspect of my life.

It’s draining both physically and emotionally.

I was in this state of depletion when Benjamin P. Hardy’s article really resonated. It was this sub-head that hit me:

Getting out of Survival Mode

Wow, that’s me. Survival Mode. Okay, then.

The subconscious cycle, he explains, blurs the distinction between the body and the mind. We go on autopilot. We react.

I’m not so sure about the morning routine making me a millionaire. Actually, other factors must come into play for that to happen.

But I get his point. I get that living with intention takes conscious effort. It takes conscious effort to effect change in behavior.

I’m sold. I’m on the other side of 65, but I am convinced there are more (again, metaphorical) mountains to climb. I know what I’d like to become. I can see it.

But I’m often either too lazy or too frightened to step out of my very established comfort zone to go for it.

Here’s the 4–1–1: It won’t happen unless I break out of my own self-imposed jail.

It won’t happen unless I subject myself to the uncertainty and accept less predictability.

It won’t happen unless I accept the chance I won’t make it (except I know I will if I try).

Finally, It won’t happen unless I try stuff I’ve never done, explore the unknown. Simply put, the unknown is my vision.

I’m just scared.

Moving forward with Intention

I don’t want to hang the “Closed” sign on my life. Not yet.

I’m taking some of Ben’s suggestions to begin to organize my life around them.

I’m following the basics of his Evening and Morning routine. I can see early on that setting up the following day eliminates floundering; you merely get stuff done because you know what needs to be done.

I won’t do everything, of course. We each need to work this out for ourselves, for our personalities, for our objectives.

That said, I don’t want my life to be a series of random acts responding to stimuli. I want a plan, dammit!

And I am committed to doing new things. Going new places. At least once a week. Getting out of my head.

I’m seeing how organization can keep the nonsense crap from invading my purpose and intention.

I wrote recently about crabgrass and writing. Now I think it’s bigger than that. I don’t want the crabgrass of life to overtake my proverbial garden the garden being my hopes and dreams. My own “garden of desire.”

The Upshot

I want an intentional plan. It won’t necessarily guarantee success. But it won’t mitigate my chances, either.

It’s not over til the fat lady sings.

And this lady is just warming up. There’s another act to unfold.

So here’s to a good break in August. Here’s to Ferragosto. Cin Cin.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


2018 Copyright Jane Trombley  All rights reserved

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