I was in France last week, earning continuing education credits for my interior design license. Yes, you read that right, credits. But before you get lost in thoughts of escargot, fois gras and cheese, let me tell you that this was more. It was an art, antiques and architectural tour and as fate would have it, only my husband Philip and I signed up for it. So we had a fabulous French tour guide and the sanctuary treasures of south France basically to ourselves. Magical? Decidedly.
We saw ruins, museums, immersive art experiences, wineries, quaint hotels and cafes, historic buildings, chateaus and castles, and more pigeons than you can imagine. It was truly a glorious week. We ended up in Paris for a few days, sans guide, so we could do a bit of celebrating (yes, still dragging out the last possible breath out of that milestone birthday) before we headed back to Florida. On those last days in Paris, I finally had time to reflect a bit and realized something. The French have mastered an important life skill. An eloquent truth. A certain…je ne sais quoi.
I call it the Art of Taking Time.
And they really do. They take time to cook the delicious meal. To make the homemade sauce. To sit down and enjoy their lunch. To rest a bit before they dig back into work. To stroll and chat and linger over a particularly good cup of coffee. They take time to actually weave stalks of fresh lavender together with ribbon to make homemade sachets. Well, not everyone does that but watching a woman do that along the sidewalk in a small village really gave me a pause. I could see this was a labor of love for her. She was so happy when I paused to notice and give an appreciative sniff. During a weekday, I saw people around midday actually sitting and relaxing in a public garden before heading back to work. I do not see this where I live. Now admittedly, it’s also 400 degrees in the shade of Florida summertime right now, but still. You know what I mean.
I lingered over lunch when I was there, but I was on vacation. Of course you linger when you’re on vacation. But during my normal workday? I rush around like a banshee on a broom and gobble a few bites of a semi-creepy salad, or worse — a handful of peanut butter filled pretzels because I feel too pressed for time to even order myself something to eat.
What is that? Why don’t I take the time to sit and enjoy a few minutes? To breathe and calm down? I am afraid that somehow, despite my belief system and my efforts to stay aware of it, busy has become a lifestyle for me.
It was interesting, the languid feeling of intentionally moving slower. Taking the time. I wondered if I would be able to bring it home with me. I’ve only been back one day, and there is a holiday weekend starting tomorrow, so there is hope! But the question remains — how do I hold onto this understanding? How do I not get caught up in the rush and habit of being busy?
I suspect the answer lies in my morning ritual, my meditation practice and simply returning to this awareness over and over and over until it becomes as natural to me as breathing. Not hair-on-fire panting, BREATHING.
I’ll let you know how I do. But tell me, how do you stay away from the trap of busy? I’d love to hear. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.
With gratitude (the slow-release kind of course),