Malta must retain the ability to appreciate the beauty it has

In our pursuit of what we perceive as important, we have to make sure we retain the ability to appreciate the beauty we already have, and value it

One of my favourite films is the Italian production La Grande Bellezza, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino. It is a thought-provoking film that captures and explores the life of an individual who on the outside has it all, but feels a huge emptiness inside.

The main character is Jep Gambardella – a 65-year-old successful writer who lives in a beautiful penthouse in central Rome. Jep’s parties are the best in town – the loudest, the most provocative and the most fun. Women clamour for his attention. He dresses like a pezzodanovanta and from the outside he has it all. The film then continues to explore Jep’s realisation, and journey, that his life is superficial. His friends are superficial. His attitude towards life is superficial. This superficiality makes him question the point of it all, and it drives him to explore what beauty really means.

A quote from the movie that captures his emotion is this: Sono belli i trenini che facciamo alle nostre feste, so’ i più belli di tutta Roma. Sono belli. Sono belli perché non vanno da nessuna parte (Our little trains that we do in our parties are the best in Rome. They are beautiful. They are beautiful because they don’t go anywhere).

For some, great beauty is a good-looking woman. For others it is shiny jewellery, the roar of a sports car engine or an elegant and expensive watch. But what the film character realises is that there other, more simple, great beauties. They are beautiful because they are there, in front of us, every single day. Rome couldn’t be a more perfect backdrop for this film because of its splendid architecture and archeological remains. However how many Romans actually stop and admire the beauty surrounding them every single day? Choosing Rome for the film was non unintentional.

This is a question we have to ask ourselves every single day. We struggle and strive for material things which we don’t necessarily need, but rather want. We strive for what we perceive are beautiful things. But there’s plenty of beauty around us already. The smell of flowers in a morning walk, a smiling child and a cup of tea overlooking the sunrise.

This is something that we need to think about not just as individuals, but also as a country. In our pursuit of what we perceive as important, we have to make sure we retain the ability to appreciate the beauty we already have, and value it.

Santa Marija

As we approach what many consider a week to relax, a quick thought to all those who will be servicing the vacation and leisure time over others, in the dreadful summer heat. This week is a time for relaxation and enjoyment with our families for those who can, before the slow return of normality, together with winter and school, comes by.

I am reading several books at the same time: interviews with Andrea Camilleri, the history of Gozo by Paul Mizzi (Il-Parrocca) and poetry by Konstantin Cavafy. My suggestion would be to use some quiet time to read a nice book. Reading is so joyful when life slows down a bit, and there’s no better time than the August swelter to find a nice spot in the shade and read a good novel or two.