Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My joie de vivre...By Thomas


I promised this post a long time ago, but never got the chance to write it. One day, One of Kim's friends asked what was french "joie de vivre". This seems to be an intriguing concept in America, and yet it is one of the simplest thing.

I am not pretending to give a definition of "joie de vivre", but I will tell you what it means for me. Literally, happiness of life. I come from the south West of France, from a Spanish immigrant family (3rd generation), and what I am going to describe will definitelly differ from other parts of France.

To me, it is all about enjoying life, enjoying things and persons around you, enjoying the moment. We all have very active lives and sometimes it goes so fast, that some of you will just miss insignificant things, but that if you were paying attention or just appreciating it for what it is, would be amazed by the beauty of it. I am not sure why, but a lot of Americans have a very materialistic view of life, always focusing on what they want rather than on what they have around them, and in the process, they miss everything!

When I was in France, I didn't have a big flat screen TV, a big house, or a big car, but I had the biggest garden one can dream about. I was living near the mountains, near the ocean and in the middle of a forest. I could spend hours with my brother doing nothing, and just sitting, looking at the ocean, and the sun slowly going down till it was dark, and then see the stars shining one after another. I have been watching these sunsets at the same exact spot during more than 10 years and they were all different. With my family, during the dinner outside, we would just stop and listen to the birds singing for hours... On Sundays we would get an endless breakfast, from 9 till 11am, just taking time to enjoy our food, and if we were patient enough we could have little birds stealing food from our plates or squirrels and rabbit looking for crumbs at our feet. Hiking was such a pleasure, see all these wild horses running in the mountains or just a simple flower growing on the side of the trail, or even climbing real quick to see the view of the valley from a waterfall. I moved away from these beauties and could just complain about what I don't have anymore, but I found different beauties over here.

Few months ago with Kim, in Montreal we went to a hike in a park and looked at baby squirrels playing (we could have so easily missed them). Pickle even had a bird landing on his finger (trust me, he will keep that memory FOREVER and it was worth more than any playstation - he will realize it eventually). Sometimes we will just sit by a creek and let the water run on our feet. Or take breakfast by the lake.

I still don't have a big house, or a big car, but all these little moments, that can sound insignificant, are just pure magic, and that's what makes me happy. Life is not going to wait for me to realize that it is full of beauty all around, so I am just opening my eyes and enjoying.

In a way "joie de vivre" doesn't really mean anything, as it is something very personal. But it is all about taking time to appreciate what you have, what is around you. As my father always said, "Mieux vaut un petit chez soi, qu'un grand chez les autres". You can always feel you need more or you want more, but the more you have, the more you want, and then you don't appreciate what is in front of you.

So my advice is simple, sometimes you just have to stop, open your eyes and appreciate. As the movie says...Carpe Diem, seize the day!

11 Comments:

At June 06, 2006, Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

OMG, I need a pedicure!!!! WAAAAAAAAA!

I know, I know, not very joie de vivre of me;)
k

 
At June 07, 2006, Blogger Samantha said...

Bravo, bon "post", Thomas.

 
At June 07, 2006, Blogger Pam said...

Moving to France meant 'downsizing' for us...less stuff...more Life...joie de vivre! : )

 
At June 07, 2006, Anonymous Pumpkin said...

Thomas,

What a beautiful post. I had tears in my eyes as I read it. All the things you talked about are what matter to me as well.

Life is about living and enjoying all the life around you. In America, I saw the little things. However, I had no time to really enjoy them as I do now here in France. We walk everywhere rather than taking the car and we really love it. The other day we saw a water vole (kinda like a water rat) swimming in a creek near our house on the way to the city and my children stood for several minutes just watching it with huge smiles on their faces. Angel even did a post about it and learned the real name for this animal in English (which I didn't know before). :)

Thank you for sharing your joie de vivre with us.

 
At June 07, 2006, Blogger carra said...

Beautiful post Thomas... When you talk about surroundings in South West of France I know exactly what you are talking about... Because I live here. I too love watching the little animals and birds, watch new flower appear by a road... Thank you for sharing your joie de vivre...

 
At June 07, 2006, Blogger traveller one said...

**laughing at kim's toes** which in a way give me a funny joie de vivre...

 
At June 07, 2006, Blogger hexe said...

What a wonderful post! I have such a hard tim finding my joie de vivre here in Florida but you have inspired me to try harder. Merci!

 
At June 07, 2006, Blogger moe said...

Good for you!

Thanks for reminding us how to enjoy life's little pleasures. I know things, events and good fortune can not really make us happy. It is how we react to the good and the bad that makes us happy or sad.

 
At June 08, 2006, Anonymous Jillybean said...

Thomas,
Thanks so much. It was perfect! I've been practicing it but, being all American, I'll need lots and lots of practice.

 
At June 11, 2006, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Oh Thomas that was so lovely! You know my fondest memories are from switzerland. Those memories were of sitting and watching perfect sunsets, beautiful mountains and clouds and watching le bateau sur le lac. Listening to it's horn. Loving to watch the sunset going down, eating outside and enjoying the air. We didn't really have tv either and I loved it that way.

Once I moved to Switzerland I started noticing all of this..Since then, that is all I want and I look for it every day of my life, but of course it will never be that special until I am back...

 
At June 12, 2006, Blogger b said...

Wonderful post, Thomas. I find that so many people forfeit experiences for things and what a meaningless existence that is...to live for things and overlook all the simple experiences that bring the most fulfillment to our lives. And as simple a concept as this is...I think that most of us need to constantly remind ourselves and work diligently to maintain a sense of joie de vivre. In doing this, I firmly believe that we become more full and are capable of love and compassion that are unparalleled. Thanks for the poignant reminder!

 

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