Brevity of Time, Immediacy of Pleasure

{ Image source: La Petit Poulailler on Flickr }
Some days, it feels like life is overwhelming. There's always something to do, somewhere to go, someone to see. On those days I have to ask myself, "Why are we doing this?"

Why indeed.

In recent months, my husband and I have talked about throwing in the corporate towel, moving to a remote island, and raising chickens and livestock. We always come up with reasons why we can't do this, primarily having to do with our kids' education and general standard of living. We would probably have to homeschool (or at least home-supplement), their extracurriculars would be severely truncated, and we wouldn't have the access to Target, Starbucks, and IKEA that I so desperately love.

We also wouldn't have to deal with traffic, the God-awful commute that my husband has to make twice daily, increasingly high taxes (unless we stay in the mid-Atlantic region or move to Hawaii), neighborhood density, and the Corporate Game that makes us both want to slit our wrists (metaphorically, of course). We could work to live, not live to work. It's an intoxicating thought.

The truth is that we're probably not going to pull a complete 180 and go live on a capitalist commune in north Texas. My husband probably isn't going to give his job the Big Finger and leave burn marks in the parking lot as he pulls out, tires squealing. We're probably going to stay in the area at least until the kids are finished with high school, hopefully in a slightly larger house in the same or a similar neighborhood.

Just because we're not giving our lives the overhaul that I wish we could doesn't mean that we can't enjoy the little, simple, immediate pleasures in life. We don't have to have the fastest car or the biggest house; we can be happy with a good piece of cheese or a delicious bottle of wine.

I recently read Debra Ollivier's What French Women Know About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind. One of the lines that stood out to me was Michele Fitoussi's summary of the French woman: "French women have a keen sense of the brevity of time and the immediacy of pleasure."

I want that. I want to enjoy what I like and not worry about the stuff that I don't. I don't want to waste my time, money, and energy on stuff that ultimately does not matter to me.

So, I am. In moderation and graduation, of course, but I'm taking time to enjoy the little things that I so truly enjoy and not giving a damn about everything else. I'm not going to worry about keeping my house in magazine-spread order, meticulously planning every aspect of my day, even keeping a schedule for my writing and blogging. This will take time, as I have an enormous place in my heart for lists, but I've gone without them for the past two days and haven't forgotten anything important. I have read books, decluttered my closet, and found places for those pictures that I haven't hung yet, however, and I'm happier with that progress than I am about getting the dishes done or cleaning my room.

For the record, I've also had five spectacular meals in the last day and a half, and I've lost 2 pounds. These meals included bread, real butter, strong coffee, cured meats, and Brie, so take that for what it's worth.

If you had the option to work to live, not live to work, what would you do?

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  1. Lynn: I love the reference to French culture. I appreciate your wanting to enjoy the immediacy of now without lollygagging on the irritables that drown our lives. I totally relate to that, having two little girls who do a fine job of messing up every single square inch of my house. What am I supposed to do, live life with a tatooed frown or turn that upside down into the smile of joy that I have two healthy, unencumbered girls? Well done, Lynn. Thanks for the food for thought.

    1. Any time! I've really been enjoying my last couple of days ... as a matter of fact, I think I'm going to go paint my nails and take a nap.

  2. I read that book last year and mediately fell in love with it. I adore the ideas in it of being able to enjoy life and find the pleasure in the smallest things. It's okay to choose to be happy and take time to be happy with what you have. Kind of like what I'm going through right now with my job hunt - sure, I could have taken the higher paying job, but I doubt I would have been happy with it.

    1. Isn't it a great book? I just finished her first one, Entre Nous, and it is similarly thought-provoking and Francophilia-inducing. Have you read it?


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