|Can you imagine I didn't even notice I was eating in front of an old canal?|
A couple of months ago – before I knew that I wanted to become a Milanese – I was quite busy becoming a Taoist. I had figured out that life was a bit too hectic and stressful for me and therefore I was looking for a successful “escape-from-stress-strategy”. I found a book, written by a certain Theo Fischer, with the promising title “The art of doing nothing” and started reading. Fischer explained that a Taoist lives purely in the present, without desires, worries or stress. A Taoist goes with the flow of life and never shows any resistance. He pays full concentration to whatever he is doing and doesn’t expect anything from life which is precisely why he gets so much back from it. Those who wanted to adopt this philosophy of living themselves, had to learn first of all to observe their own everyday life with hundred percent, undivided attention. This sounds easy but actually it’s extremely difficult. You’ll understand what I mean by trying to answer some of Fischer’s questions. “How did the girl at the cash register at the supermarket looked like yesterday? What’s the colour of her eyes? Was she wearing any jewelry or nothing at all?” Most of the time, we just run through life and absorb almost nothing of what is really happening around us. Trying to change this, isn’t a piece of cake. Believe me, I tried to do so for weeks without any result.
Until I decided to become a Milanese. Now, I walk through streets of Milan which I have walked a thousand times before and suddenly I discover the most odd and impressive details I have never noticed before. Like an old canal lock for instance! At 500 meters from my door step and with a little terrace in front of it where I even have eaten a tasty salad some months ago! The thing is called Il Tombon di San Marco and lies in some kind of ditch without a drop of water. I look at the lock’s big wooden doors and wonder how on earth it’s possible that I have been eating here without seeing this giant curious thing! Fischer is right. Most people really are zombies. Ex-zombie Stevens can confirm this! Luckily, I have a Milanese To-Do list which can only be executed while keeping your eyes as widely open as the doors of the Tombon. And not only your eyes! Your imagination as well! Because how would I otherwise be able to fulfill my 8th Milano task and travel back in time to see how this city used to look like a little Venice? With lots of canals and lockkeepers who regulated the water level of the city by handling the doors of the Tombon? Two months ago, I declared to anyone who was willing to listen that Milan was about the most boring city of Italy and that there was absolutely nothing to see. Now that I finally managed to get my eyes open and started observing attentively like Fischer had asked me to, I actually discover one treasury after another. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Sometimes in life you can only reach destination A by walking determinedly to destination B. And sometimes you can only become a Taoist after giving up on this idea and decide you’d rather become a Milanese.