Blank Can­vas

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Lit -

“Sprez­zatura” is a beau­ti­ful Ital­ian term which means “look­ing ef­fort­less.” Or, as the 16th cen­tury Ital­ian au­thor Bal­das­sare Castil­i­ogne de­scribes it, a cer­tain “non­cha­lance” so as to con­ceal and make what­ever one does ap­pear with­out ef­fort or al­most any thought about it. Sprez­zatura is an an­cient con­cept from 500 years ago but has found resur­gence in the in­ter­net re­cently, es­pe­cially in fash­ion — where the term is used to de­scribe ef­fort­less fash­ion and stand­ing out sub­tly. Boho chic MK & A would be the per­fect rep­re­sen­ta­tion of “sprez­zatura” fash­ion — boho chic (or hobo chic, same thing). Sprez­zatura is when you want to show peo­ple that you don’t give a shit but you ac­tu­ally do. It re­minds me of my girl­friend who in­vested $400 worth of makeup to achieve the “no makeup look.” Out­side of fash­ion and beauty, the con­cept of “sprez­zatura” still rings true. Pi­anists who can play with their eyes closed. Gym­nasts bend­ing their bod­ies like it’s the most nat­u­ral thing in the world. Surfers who un­der­stand the wind and waves at the back of their hand. You know those type of peo­ple who make things look so easy but then when you try it, it’s not? In my cir­cle, we al­ways have a friend who is an ex­pert in a cer­tain sub­ject mat­ter. In my case it was Phil and Pole, Blanne and Yoga, Jilly and Salsa, Honey and Lan­guages, Wheng and Ac­count­ing, Chloe and Surf­ing, Karlo and Climb­ing, Mai Linh and Med­i­ta­tion... While my friends make amaz­ing teach­ers and men­tors, it also sucks to share the ac­tiv­ity with your friend and see them smil­ing and hav­ing the time of her life; while you are on your

knees dy­ing on the inside. “How do you make this look so easy?!?!?!” I asked one time. “Ten thou­sand hours of prac­tice.” And that, folks, is the se­cret. The ba­sic Mal­colm Glad­well rule. I’m al­ways try­ing out new things, but never got into some­thing so much that I be­came ac­tu­ally good at it. I’m al­ways in the “can do” cat­e­gory, but never got to the level of ex­per­tise of my afore­men­tioned friends. I would al­ways be the “Jill of all trades, mas­ter of none” be­cause I never got that sense of com­mit­ment. I’ve been try­ing to fig­ure this out lately, on why I don’t have the level of com­mit­ment that would make me “awe­some.” Partly be­cause if some­thing con­sumes me too much, I start to de­test it. Partly be­cause my ENFP brain is eas­ily dis­tracted by the next shiny new thing. It was my Chilean friend Ig­na­cio who fig­ured out the most of the puz­zle. “You have an aver­sion for cat­e­gories,” Ig­na­cio re­marked. “Hm?” I said, con­fused. We were inside the Philadel­phia Mu­seum of Art by the Cy Twombly gallery when he said that. “You winced when I said, ‘So, you’re a teacher,’” he ex­plained. “It’s the same re­ac­tion you had when Nico teased ‘Fi­nally, here’s the Visit Philly model!’” Amaz­ing how a mi­cro-ex­pres­sion such as a wince could say so much about a per­son. I re­al­ized I do it more of­ten than the sce­nar­ios he enu­mer­ated. In my case, I wince when­ever peo­ple des­ig­nate me to a cer­tain cat­e­gory. “That Filipino girl.” “That Bisaya.” “That MBA stu­dent.” “That salsa dancer.” “That art his­tory teacher.” “That travel blog­ger.” Even if the des­ig­na­tions were true and weren’t neg­a­tive at all, I still some­how wince with­out my per­mis­sion or no­tice! “Why is that so?” he asked. “There’s noth­ing wrong with cat­e­go­riz­ing. It makes hu­mans’ lives eas­ier.” “I don’t know. It’s like some­how my fate is sealed to­wards be­ing in that box for the rest of my life...” I trailed and looked at him, and he ob­vi­ously didn’t share the sen­ti­ment. “Look at that paint­ing.” I pointed east of the room. “Isn’t that an amaz­ing mas­ter­piece?...” “It’s like Sprez­zatura, no? The artist made it look like it is so ef­fort­lessly done, like the work of a ma­gi­cian. I mean, peo­ple can’t help but won­der: ‘Wow, I won­der how that was made?’” “I don’t want to be that mas­ter­piece. I think I would rather be a blank can­vas. I want peo­ple to look at me and won­der, ‘Wow, I won­der what she could be?’”

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