~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #215
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“It’s worth the effort.” —Patricia Wells
(The following episode was taped while traveling in Provence, France, using a handrecorder. Please excuse indulations in volume.)
The legions of birds and their signature melodies, the playful butterflies that promenade amongst our meals, the clock tower reminding us that indeed we are not dreaming and the vintner on his tractor tending to his vines.
The sounds of Provence.
More specifically, the sounds of Vaison-la-Romaine.
As my fellow classmates and myself sat down for our final lunch together with Patricia and Walter Wells concluding a week long experiential cooking class, the words above were shared with the group. Speaking not only of the effort to plan, prepare, and shop at the market, but also to have the patience with our lives to curate them carefully so to provide the fertility for a beautiful life to grow, the Wells demonstrated that a good life can be simple, slow and yes, thus absolutely luxurious. In this particular moment the effort made by the Wells was to welcome a group of people that would appreciate in their own way the gathering as well as the food (which was exquisite and seasonal).
Traveling abroad to a country which doesn’t speak a language we know well can be intimidating, and for some seemingly dream crushing. But it need not be. In fact, as a language teacher, when the words are removed or pared down to the essentials of living an everyday life (thank you, please, how much, where is, I love, etc.), we are invited to see the world through a different lens. We begin to observe actions far more carefully, to value the importance of kindness and thoughtfulness. When we rely only on our words to navigate in this world we forget how influencial our body language, our facial expression, our tone can be on any given situation. Yes, even a smile can be sinister or sincere, and if we are studied in the skill of physical observation, we can ascertain the slight and subtle difference.
Yes, undoubtedly, words are powerful, and to live well in a civilized society such as ours and much of the modern world, knowing how to communicate well in the language of the country and community in which we live is fundamental, but it isn’t the only skill we should practice and improve regularly to build the relationships we want and need in our lives.
So if there is another world (country) you long to see, to experience, to taste, but the language barrier is currently the dilemma, fear not. Ironically, I have found that the best way to pick up a language, for it to stick in my long-term memory, is to be amongst as it is used in the world. It has been with each trip, moreso with each subsequent trip, to France that while I do not understand 60-70% of what is said, I understand more and more and feel less of someone on the outside. What we fear is not knowing French, but what we long is to be amongst the French culture. What better teacher than a Francophone country?
When you step into your fear, the language will gradually come. Not an immense amount, but in spurts and stalls. Give yourself the gift of one more language, even if you speak it poorly (which I do when it comes to French) because as the Chinese proverb reminds “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world” and as the Czech proverb teaches, “You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.” And so if we each have one more window to broaden our perspective and provide a deeper understanding of the world and then one more life, how rich and wise are we?
What does making an effort look like when it comes to our dreams?
For the Wells it was purchasing a farm in the hills of Provence, remodeling for decades, little by little and choosing, taking the risk, to share their lives, a glimpse, but an intimate glimpse, eight weeks a year (one week at a time) with strangers from around the world. Effort.
Let’s take a look at other examples of effort:
1.Waking up early to begin the day with more time than needed so you do not have to rush
2. Saving each month money for retirement
3. Choosing to get to know yourself
4. Recognizing you can grow and becoming a student of the skills you can learn
5. Not doing as others do, traveling every weekend or every summer and instead, saving, planning or living where you love calling home.
6. Being thoughtful in your relationship building
7. Taking the time to understand someone who is good, but communicates or lives differently, in order to strengthen and express love
8. Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel, but also recognizing emotions are like the weather, not the climate – temporary.
9. Taking care of your health and body
10. Strengthening the muscle that is your mind
“It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly.” — Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve
As much as we are advised and even tell ourselves to live in the moment (heck, TSLL talks regularly about being present), we are given the gift of perspective as human beings. And it is through effort that dreams can be realized that are worth savoring upon not only attaining them, but making the journey towards them.
My trip to France as I mentioned a few weeks ago has been years in the making. I might even suggest it began the moment I made my first month long journey in 2000. In some ways my trip to France is part of a larger journey toward other visions I have for my life, so in many ways our lives contain dreams within dreams that we pursue. Which when you contemplate this composition creates a beautiful life quilt consisting of many dreams that bolster and provide foundation for one another.
Effort is worth being given, and your dreams are worth being pursued. Have the patience to let them fertilize, mature and grow when they have the strength to emerge. This requires of each of us careful awareness, a flexibility, but also a courageousness. All of these are skills; therefore, we all can learn them and use them.
Bonne journée from Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence, France.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Everyday Life in Paris: A Fashion Show in the Palais-Royale (I was not invited)
~Back to Paris (summer 2018)
~View allFrench-themed podcast episodes of The Simple Sophisticatehere.
~View allTSLL French-themed blog postshere.
~Follow TSLL on Instagramto see all of the pics from my France trip.
~Sign-up forTSLL’s weekly newsletterand never miss a post or exclusive news (delivered each Friday to your inbox)!
~My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now by Peter Mayle (his final book)
If you are just beginning to read Peter Mayle’s work (he has published 14 books, 7 of which were novels), begin with the memoir that caught the world’s attention A Year in Provence, and if you love cozy mysteries set in France, begin with The Vintage Caper (2009) Sam Levitt detective series, there are four in the series.
~Visit Peter Mayle’s website
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