In considering how time, serendipity, and personal evolution effect and react to one another, there is one universal truth: until you are ready for particular things to come into your life –relationships, careers, certain vegetables, Hemingway, opera– they can cross your path a thousand times without having any effect.

There are also places in this world –Civita, for instance– that are rich in after-soul, memory, tradition, and nature, which together perpetually nurture a sense of convivial destiny, attracting those who seek something — oftentimes without even knowing what.
After sharing cappuccini e cornetti with my new housemate, Helen, at Peppone’s Bar this morning, I realized that, many of us seeking to find ourselves often end up in Civita. As Bonnie and Stephen did for me, Helen was introduced to NIAUSI by a friend she met in painting class, who firmly asserted that she must visit Civita in 2010 as she takes a sabbatical from her job in Seattle as a surgeon.

In a short while, Helen and I will venture down to Bagnoregio’s librashop and Massimo’s bar, as I’ve not been to either yet. To date, the timing –and the availability of mobile company– has simply not been right; at 1700, when the book shop opens, I am always mid-essay, and by 1900, cocktail hour has begun.

Evenings in Civita have historically been a time for sitting in the garden and chiacchierrare, followed by wine and dinner in the company of friends. When I invited Helen to join me on this adventure, I instantly became of aware of the pattern I’ve created –and deeply enjoy– as well as my growing desire to continue an outward blossom of activity beyond my small corner of paradise.

To date, I have written about Civita’s weather, giardini, festivals and structures, but dawn/day and sunset/night are two concepts that I’ve consciously saved for when it felt right to explore. Rituals of food and wine, the mountainous topography, and the pure enjoyment of Tony’s company have kept my gravity close to home. Yet, just as serendipity opened my eyes to another Venezia after dark, I sense that it’s time to broaden my experience of Civita — especially after the sun sets.

Like my newfound appreciation of Wagner’s “The Ring of Nibelung,” (to my delight, Tony played “The Rhine Gold” during last weekend’s wild tempest), the timing must be right for certain encounters to have meaning and effect. Similarly, in considering the coincidence of Helen’s arrival just as I’m ready to venture out, I believe that it’s the power of Civita, time, and my old friend serendipity that drew us here to find each other in the process of finding ourselves.

Some people are able to accomplish these things in their shrink’s office at home; others of us need to climb a hill or two before we can get there. Secondo me, I think it’s good to get out once in a while.