An advertising professional based in Dubai, Aanchal Sethi is currently taking a sabbatical to attend the Aegean Center’s fall semester. Here is a post from Aanchal’s own blog, reposted here in full with Aanchal’s permission.
Rebirth in Italy
I stand in the corner of the dining room with a champagne glass in hand listening intently to the toast Jane is making. My eyes, trying to hide the tears that are developing look deeply into the bubbles that surround the rim of the class. My heart, open and full, speaks to the smile that forms on my lips.
For the first time in years, I am present in a moment created by someone else that reflects everything I feel.
In the past few weeks, I have been asked several times to explain how my sabbatical is coming along. People expect long and detailed answers and all I can give them is a simple – ‘it’s going great’ reply. I haven’t found a descriptive word to describe this experience.
All I can say is this.
From drawing straight lines to understanding the depth and reason behind Bellini’s Madonna and Child to letting myself free in theater and seeing shapes between objects – in the past one month, I have learned how to learn. It is bewildering what being a child again can do to you, when the fear of not knowing is taken over by the wonder of discovery.
I have sat in the same squares of Tuscan towns where I sat a few years ago with a gelato in hand and realized that places don’t change, people and circumstances do. And perhaps that is why we move on.
I have broken out of my comfort zone and surrounded myself with youth to relish the truth that age is in the mind. I have felt blessed when young women have told me that my life is a #goal for them for that is the one thing I usually take for granted.
Feeling like a tiny speck in the grandness of the universe and adorned by the power of art, I have shed tears of gratitude in a man-made wonder.
I took this sabbatical to discard the entrenched feeling of stagnation that has been reigning over me for a few years. Trapped in the corporate world, I have been a slave to my monthly salary that never leaves me content. My growth, often restricted by my own inhibitions to try new things, has stunted year after year of my so called adult life.
My thoughts are interrupted as Jane toasts to our individual renaissance in Italy and that is when it hits me. The one word I have been looking for to describe this journey.
Here’s looking forward to what Greece has to bring and looking at the world from a new set of eyes and wonder!