Friday, February 18, 2011

There is More To Life Than Increasing Its Speed...Gandhi

That Gandhi...sure knew what he was talking about. France is a country embodying this quote. It's a country where people enjoy time and act as if there is an infinite amount of it. No one is rushed (unless they're walking anywhere or on the metro).

Unlike in the United States where university students may have a few laundry lists of things to do in a day (cough, cough ELON's entire campus), the French university student's daily life is quite different. They have classes, play a sport (normally tennis), maybe play the guitar or something they're interested in, hang around with friends and then be home in time for dinner then putz around for a bit. Meals (EVEN LUNCH) are cooked. Cooked! With real food not being warmed in a micro wave. Dang.

Dinners are enjoyed. Drinks, no matter if they're alcoholic or not are finished before leaving. Once you are done with your food, it's common to sit for at least 30 minutes. Enjoying food is an art here. "To go" cups of coffee really don't exist. A few cafes have them, but it is really uncommon to see a French person holding a cup of something warm to go. You sit at a cafe, after all.

The metro, though, isn't real life. Everyone is in a hurry. People literally run. I'm thankful for growning up in the D.C. area. I've been exposed to some great cultural experiences, have learned a lot, and of course have loved the history/politics surrounding the area. The most important lesson though has been using the metro. At a young age I learned to not look at people. Not when you're walking down the street. Not when you bump into them walking. Not on a sunny afternoon in D.C. and ESPECIALLY not on the metro.

The French take this "don't-dare-look-at-anyone-on-the-metro-because-I'm-far-superior-than-you-so stop" game to a whole new level. First of all, personal space doesn't exist. (D.C. you didn't prepare me for this, but I still love you). Even if you're closer to them then you are in a hug with your parents, you don't look at them. Second of all, while riding the metro you're never supposed to be looking at something, but you're always looking. If you do make eye contact you act as if it never happened and quickly look away.

When this game starts I always want to shout TAG, YOU'RE IT. However, unfortunately for some bizarre reason Americans have been stereotyped as loud and obnoxious, so I try to avoid fueling this stereotype with real life evidence.

I digress... Where ever you are and reading this take a breath. Maybe even two. Remember that life still continues whether or not you're 30 seconds early or 30 seconds late. Enjoy an extra cup of coffee while sitting and talking with a friend. After all, there is more to life than increasing its speed. :)

1 comment:

  1. I agree 100% with this. Enjoy the relaxing times while you can. Isn't it wonderful?! I wish the US understood this. I remember really struggling to find reason to be at my classes right on time after experiencing a semester's mentality of "getting there when I get there"... a few minutes late never hurt anyone.