In Italy, there are more steps than you can imagine. They’re everywhere. I remember my first trip to Italy, when I visited Liguria. I was so impressed with the beauty of the women – strong-looking women, with great legs from all of the walking they did, seemingly from terrace to terrace, probably with a glass of Pigato in hand. If there weren’t steps, there were hills and sidewalks to walk. The pace was comfortable, never rushed, and somehow life felt like something to be savored. It spoke to me.
I saw and felt a similar vibe when I visited Rome. There were steps everywhere and my legs got a workout carrying me all day as I explored the city. Again, there were steps too plentiful to count, and sturdy and attractive women. The pace was ideal and I found it easy to breathe there.
I thought about how steps in Italy actually took you somewhere. Your feet carried you from place to place and you felt, I imagine, strong from it. It wasn’t important, though, to measure or count those steps. I mean, what would a number measure? How many times you moved your feet? Who cares about that anyway? Do people really positively evaluate their lives on the basis of the number of steps they take in a single day? That’s just weird.
In Italy, everyone walks and navigates steps all around the country. The steps are what connect places to one another, city to city, town to town, village to village. Steps are how you get somewhere.
In America, people don’t walk regularly but they do talk about how many steps they have taken on a particular day. They wear devices to collect data about how far and fast they walked during a specific time period. People set goals and are encouraged and held accountable by their devices. It’s all about achieving a number, regardless of how you do it. A step is a step whether your eyes are open or closed. It doesn’t matter what you see along the way, the importance comes from a number.
I’m sincerely sorry if I sound judgmental. It isn’t my intent. We all take our motivation where we find it and I respect that truly. I was just so struck in the difference between the connotations of a simple word like “steps” in two different cultures. Maybe it’s time to stop counting and start going.