Thursday, November 16, 2006

making the day just a little brighter

In France, small rituals add purpose to every day. When you meet someone on the street, be it a friend or just a slight acquaintance, you kiss them on the cheek. And they kiss you back. Not once, but twice, and sometimes three or four times depending on geography. You say hello whenever you enter a shop or bakery. In fact, to neglect doing so is considered quite rude. Coffee in France is a quarter of the size of an American cup and yet the French take four times as long to drink it.

These are not just rituals, they are the unspoken law of the culture.

I was thinking about this today while in a sullen mood, and feeling quite helpless. Sometimes having rules and guidelines makes things so much easier. For then, at least you have something to measure yourself by. In America, interpersonal rules are nebulous, and it that sense, easily forgotten. Sometimes a whole day can pass without so much as a meaningful interaction.

Sometimes I yearn for a two-hour long coffee on a Tuesday afternoon. I want to kiss my coworker on the cheek. Can I do it? Well, perhaps within reason. But there is a way to follow the rules without getting into trouble. And here's the challenge: in everything you do today, do it with purpose and determination. Even if you're just washing the dishes. Even if you're getting yelled at by your boss. Even if your cat just peed on the rug. Even if all you're doing ALL day is writing e-mails. Rejoice in the varied moments of your day. Add your own personal touch. Make it a ritual. Make it last. Your life will be fuller because of it. I promise.

Oh, and if you ever see me on the street, instead of just waving and walking on, please kiss me on the cheek!

/love, p.w.

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