Francis on “Taking Time to Smell the Roses”

"Slow Down"

“Slow Down”

The concept of “taking time to smell the roses” is deeply engrained in my culture, the French culture.  The country’s daily rhythm reflects the fact that French people don’t want to hurry through life. Lunch is a great example. Every day at noon the country “shuts down” for a couple hours because “life” isn’t just about necessities, like working and making money. And what is “life” to a French person?  Well, for most of us, it isn’t the job we do: we work to live, we don’t live to work… So, when asked “what do you do?” we are more likely to say something like “I teach” than “I am a teacher”.  “Living” means savoring the little pleasures that each day bring us, like: our families, our friends, and the food we eat. “Taking time to smell the roses” is also reflected in our priorities: the majority of us value love more than work (so if we have to choose between taking a job or staying with a lover or family, nearly everyone would pick the people at the expense of the profession); we tend to value time more than money (which explains why the best ice cream shop in Paris closes during the peak tourist season in August, so the employees can go on vacation). And, I think it would also be fair to say that we live to eat (rather than the other way around).  These priorities affect the pace of the entire country: in France, you are almost forced to “stop and smell the roses”.  At lunchtime, the majority of the shops and services stop functioning and close their doors to customers so that people can (or have to) take the time to enjoy the meal with family, co-workers or friends.  In restaurants, good service is deliberately slow and protracted, allowing (or forcing) diners to linger and take the time to engage in deep conversations and appreciate the aromas, tastes, and textures of the food.

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