I often feel like an optimist living in a world of pessimists. In other words, an ex-pat living in Paris. At first, and even second glance, Parisians do not appear a happy bunch. They rarely smile or laugh and formality is evident in their manner of speech and body language. Is this attitude contagious? Will I become more serious and less smiley in time?
What is the reason behind this seemingly grim outlook on life? Perhaps this pensive look is a facade, meant to imply depth and intelligence. The French highly value knowledge and like to question almost anything. And anyone, for that matter. This is all in high contrast to the ‘light and happy’ approach to life Americans are known to possess. (I tend to live somewhere inbetween.)
The French are lucky, given the expansive healthcare system and 35-hour work week, not to mention the haute cuisine, enchanting landscapes…I could go on. France is a country often rated number one in terms of ‘Quality of Life’. There is no reason not to feel the joie de vivre. Unless there is a secret I have not been privy to.
Perhaps we can blame the weather for this ‘melancholic air’. It’s currently Spring and the temperature rarely exceeds 60 degrees fahrenheit. More often than not, the sky is filled with clouds releasing torrents of rain. I can sulk beneath the varying shades of gray, spend late afternoons at a local cafe plotting a protest, or debating Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s socio-political role in French affairs. Or any number of philosophical musings.
Or I can continue to search for that and those which make me smile. And simply enjoy what is. Aware that after the rain the sun will shine, and I might even catch a glimpse of a rainbow.