Monday, January 24, 2011

In French, Bonheur--In English, Good Time ~

The North Wind Blows ~
This afternoon--feeling the sting of some painful personal trials, forced to the surface today by a program I watched on television and a phone call--I thought I'd ask if you have days when life seems to hit you in the face. And I don't mean gently, as in a soft summer breeze...I mean hard, like a wind from the North Pole. Relentless, unforgiving, freezing. At first, we fight it and try every way we can think of to get rid of it. But as I's relentless. So we give in, and on this kind of day, we move with a heaviness and sadness that isn't relieved by any method to be contrived. And eventually, all we can do is to ask when it will end, and whether it will leave anything of value behind.

The most we can hope for is a new consciousness--a new awareness created out of the chaos. And this new awareness will be a kind of guardian against mental malaise and stuckness. And I'm thinking that what we see in others is so often what is actually going on in ourselves--our lives, our minds, our hearts--not someone else's. We sit arrogantly within our own little lives, thinking that we're doing the right thing, the best thing, the only thing required of us. But in reality, we're living a lie in so many ways...kidding ourselves (certainly not others) and thinking (without thinking) that we're getting by with it. It's scary.

And in the interest of your mental health, I'll give you a tidbit from Mireille Guiliano's French Women for All Seasons. She lists some French words with an explanation of their meaning; you probably won't realize this, but her thoughts are connected to all the things I'm expressing.

Bonheur: French women know happiness is not a matter of luck; it's what you make of your life. This word for happiness is literally "good time." The French way of connecting feeling with time is telling. It suggests something to be cultivated in the course of our hours and days and months and years, how we live in relation to them. The English word happy comes from the archaic word hap, which means "luck." Interesting distinction.  

Words are so important in our lives, but what has happened to them? With all the sound bites and abbreviations for them in texting and commenting...I'm not sure there will be anyone literate around in fifty years. But I like to think that the pendulum will swing wide, and words will again become significant in our lives. Melodramatic...probably. But it comes with the mood.


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