One of the things I always notice when I return from France is how easy things are.
It feels like I don’t have to think when I get back to Melbourne. Driving is straightforward, as is getting a table in a restaurant. Crossing the road is simple and asking for directions takes no thought at all. And reading signage becomes effortless.
I mean, it is so different to when I’m in France.
Over in France, I have to think hard about every word I say because French (still) does not come easily to me. Translating a menu and then ordering becomes an event worth celebrating. The road is an extremely dangerous place with everything being on the ‘wrong’ side – I have to concentrate just to get from one side of a road to the other, let alone drive on one. And let’s not even start on what it takes to buy new clothes or shoes over there.
No wonder I sometimes come home from our trips exhausted!
But this realisation also drives home the fact that we spend much of our time living life on autopilot. We don’t think, we just do. We are not always present and we usually don’t have to focus on the little things. We slip through our days with our minds either back in past or making up the future.
If I’m being truthful, I prefer my life when I am forced to think. When I have to concentrate or make conscious decisions. When life isn’t just passing me by.
Yes, I spend a lot more time feeling challenged but I also get to feel proud of myself more often, especially when I get things right or something goes well.
I’m sure my focused state also means I remember more. I can tell you off the top of my head what we did and where we went for every day of our very first trip to France. I can share the price of the cab fare on the day we had to find alternative transport to Lamastre. I recall exactly what we had for lunch the day we visited Nîmes years ago. And that’s fairly impressive given I couldn’t tell you what I ate for lunch last Thursday.
I really like being able to remember all the little details.
I’ve decided that I’m going to work to bring that same mindful and present state that I capture in France into my everyday life. I’m aiming to achieve that same level of concentration and focus in my days. And I’ll test my success via what I can remember.
I promise to let you know how I go.
Until next time – au revoir.