Living French, so far to me, means most of all living one day at a time. I no longer try to accelerate the pace of my life with worry, doubt, and frustration. I no longer look back at the past as much. I generally, now, try to enjoy every passing moment in this day that I can.
Of course, I am not perfect. I still do these bad things, but not as much. Perhaps, it is the French books I have been reading. Perhaps, it is just knowing I will turn 27 in September, so a sense of maturity lingers in me with the knowledge that 30 will be soon. Perhaps, it's also that I don't have the perfect job, the husband, the kids, that I just "knew" I'd have as a beaming 21 year old. With life, comes the unexpected and the unplanned. Living French, it seems, is to enjoy those aspects.
The French, in general, from what I have learned, feel less of a pressure to marry and do not place such a high emphasis on career that Americans do. Unfortunately, this is something I do feel pressure to do every day; and unlike a French girl who is truly French, I am living in America. Marriage and children and great jobs with high salaries are the "have it all" that many American women feel the pressure to have, in a bad or good economy, whether they like it or not.
Learning to be French, helps me to escape these pressures--to remember what it is to really understand what life is about. Having good friends, a good lover boyfriend or husband (or a few), enjoying the sights I see, the food I eat, and having something intelligent and passionate to say about life. I have all of these things, but every so often I feel a sense of insecurity or that typical American feeling of never having enough.
Then I think, maybe I am not just living French, but I am really trying to live Buddhist. After all, I have been reading books about Buddhism like "The energy of Prayer" and "Peace is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh, who ironically has a sanctuary in Southern France. Perhaps, this is something I have been truly striving for in my journey to be more French, simplicity, in the Buddhist kind of way. Each day is a new day to be aware of and accept, no matter what. To take it as it comes. To enjoy it. To let it pass. Then to see the next day and the next...