Saudade. A word overheard on vacation (thank you, Jêrome, and Paola, from Brazil). The term "saudade" isn't French (not yet*)--but a good mot to start with as we get back to school and work (la rentrée) and back on course with our goals, dreams, and visions which so often bring us full circle to our nostalgic beginnings. Thank you for reading this journal and for sharing it with somebody who loves France. I hope these posts enrich more than your vocabulaire.
Today's word: saudade
: a feeling of delicious nostalgia
: a profound emotional state, both positive or neg (gone-by days, lost love)
: the sentiment of missing something or someone; homesickness
*Saudade is considered a Portuguese word difficult to translate, to the point that the creation of a French neologism was even considered. -- Saudade est considéré comme un mot portugais difficile à traduire, au point que la création d'un néologisme français a même été envisagée. (Wikipedia)
Click here to listen to the word saudade, as it appears in the sentence above
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
My belle-mère Marsha once said: "The last thing you toss into your suitcase is the thing you end up using the most!" Was she ever right! And to think I hesitated about bringing my Kindle to the Alps. On second thought, I reasoned, it might come in handy...what with the weak wee-fee, or internet reception, in the remote valley where I would be joining my husband, who had arrived the week before.
There in Serre Chevalier, in the Alpine hamlet of Les Boussards, I snuggled into the loft of a tiny stone chalet. Flipping open my Kindle (bought a few years ago, with high hopes of remedying my readers block), I had a look at my digital library. That's when I noticed the title As a Man Thinketh... I don't remember if or when I ever read it...
My Mom once shared a consolation about the right man at the wrong time, and the same could be said about a self-help classic! A book we tried to connect with years ago suddenly aligns with us, its words jumping right off the page and diving deep into our fertile minds. And so it was with the bestseller Tel Un Homme Pense. Over the one-week retreat to the Vallée de la Guisane I read and reread this little gem (only 65 pages) by James Allen, carefully chewing on and putting into practice its wisdom when away from the text (as when, in a pair of cheap sneakers, I followed my husband of 25 years--a soon-to-be triathlete--and our friend Nicolas up a steep mountain.
High up with the cerfs and the wolves that hunt them, my heart beating faster than an Arizona hummingbird and my t-shirt soaked from effort--I remembered a favorite passage from the book:
There is no physician like cheerful thought for dissipating the ills of the body....
With this nugget in mind, the hike became faisable and uplifting (literally. As the body is the slave of thought, it soon came round...especially when we reached the serene lake at the top of the mount...).
If I got to practice the book's principles while pushing my 51-year-old body to its limits in the Alps, I didn't miss the many opportunities to retrain my brain during the rest of our trip (away from the comfort and familiarity of home and into new places and new social situations...including a French marriage in which I was certain we guests were all going to sleep in a barn with no toilet. Just goes to show how past experiences (...) frame our perspective! After psyching myself for the wedding, I was pleasantly surprised when the groom showed us to our very own room and its en-suite amenities!
"Our own room!" I said to Jean-Marc, shutting the door in relief.
"But of course. What were you thinking?" My husband replied.
What were you thinking. A question we might all ask ourselves more often, as the mind tends to gallop forward, like a wild étalon. A wild stallion may be a beautiful thing, except when it bolts, taking you along for the ride.
It is time to tame our thoughts and move forward into the new year. Whether you are going back to school or back to work today, je vous souhaite une bonne rentrée. Keep nostalgia and longing in your heart--saudade--be a little more fleur bleue and continue to follow your dreams wherever they lead.
Post Note: I highly encourage you to buy a copy of As a Man Thinketh. Each time I reach the end of the book, on my Kindle reader, I start over again. And when I can no longer recall the meaningful sentences highlighted within, I've come up with a helpful two-word summary to keep on track throughout the day: Lofty thoughts! Lofty thoughts!
The edition, above, is the one I just purchased for my Mom. It comes with an extra book:As A Man Thinketh & From Poverty to Power
If you'd like to order a Kindle, click here.
saudade = a kind of longing
le mot = word
la rentrée = back to school, back to work (after summer break)
le vocabulaire = vocabulary
la belle-mère = stepmother (also can mean mother-in-law)
wee-fee = French pronunciation of Wi-Fi
le cerf = stag, deer
faisable = doable
un étalon = stallion, male horse
fleur bleu = romantic
je vous souhaite une bonne rentrée = I wish you a good start (to the new (school year or back to work after break)
être fleur bleu = to be sentimental
amicalement = best wishes
Nicolas and Jean-Marc at a mountain top in Nevache