When you visit the island of Vis, it is impossible not to come across the word pòmalo; it is both a greeting meaning “take it easy” and a Dalmatian philosophy of how to do things properly, or even how to react in a situation of utter crisis. Instead of worrying about problems we cannot solve, we have to focus slowly on problems we can solve in the “here and now,” and perhaps, in the near future, even the big problems won’t be no longer unsolvable.
The philosophy of pòmalo is a sort of festina lente and clearly connected to the original meaning of the Greek word “school”—namely skohle, meaning “leisure.”
Henry David Thoreau mentions it in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers: “Can there be any greater reproach than idle learning?” “Learn to split wood, at least.” Only in an environment that is not subject to our current dictatorship of time might there be a chance for taking it slow, both in thinking, questioning, and learning.
It is precisely during the moments of “leisure,” as the ancient Greek philosophers and Thoreau well understood, that truly new thinking can be created. Or take the example of Newton, who caused a revolution in physics when an apple dropped from a tree while he was forced to move back to his childhood home during the outbreak of the bubonic plague.
Whatever the case may be—Dalmatian fishermen, Momo’s Beppo sweeping one problem at a time, or Newton and Thoreau, pòmalo is something we look forward to incorporating into our daily lives, and hopefully yours too.