Friday, October 16, 2009

The Best Medicine

James Madison, our 4th U.S. President was a pretty smart guy.
An American politician, political philosopher, and recognized by many political and historical academics as the “father of the Constitution”, this man took his work seriously. However, apparently, he also made a commitment to his leisure time, as well. James Madison said, “Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages.”

And he is right.

Not realizing it at the time, I heeded the advice of President Madison and did just this. Laying my “guilty mother” and “career-gal” reservations aside, I took P.O.D. up on his invitation to spend a week with him and the G’s in Southern France and Monaco. A long journey. A mild season. A pleasant country. Easy stages. While my initial reactions to this trip focused mainly on all the things I would miss out on, I have more recently been reflecting upon all the things I have gained from this trip.

Here are a few “life souvenirs” that I picked up in my travels:

Global vision. I realize that I am not the only person living on this planet. I know that is an elementary way to express it but there are many people who never leave the boundaries of their home towns. They grow up in their own “walled cities” and live life not ever seeing that there is a whole world of cultures and languages and problems and triumphs that exist beyond their own front porch. Landscapes as rich and beautiful as the ones we call “home” abound in every hill and valley of our planet. Cultures. Colors. Foods. Music. While they are all so different, they have one thing in common…..they serve as home to someone. Those people are just like you and me but live elsewhere and it is our job to visit as many of our fellow humans in their “homes” as possible. I think this allows us to gain a better understanding that we live as one united people. One global community.

Self acceptance. This one was BIG for me. The cliché is true….French women are beautiful. And here is the thing….their beauty is much different than what Americans (especially American women) recognize as beautiful. French women are beautiful from within. Their beauty comes from a confidence that they exude like nothing I have ever seen. They are comfortable in their own skin. They are strong and independent. They eat until they are full; they drink until they are satisfied. Here is the difference…..they LIVE. I am working very hard to accept this as part of who I am. I am not a size. I am an essence. I want to LIVE like the French and, with any luck, my beauty will become a by-product of my loving life.

Deeper. Broader. Richer. On this trip, I made a conscious effort to take many “mental pictures”. I savored every taste, every sip, every sight, every sound. From the vision of a festival atmosphere in a town square in Nice, to the church bells ringing in the distance while sunning myself by the pool, to my seeing a blueness of the Cote d’ Azur waters that I have never, ever seen before in my life….these are the things that make my life richer. No t-shirt or postcard can ever capture those things. My soul has been made richer by experiencing these things and for that, I am forever changed.

Finally, appreciation of my own “good life”. Ahh. To be home again is something I cherish. Frantic schedules. The reality of bill-paying, my small, cluttered, dirty house, managing my personal dramas, feeling overwhelmed by life….kids pulling me in every direction. It is chaos. But it is my life and it is my reality. And I am glad to be back in it. I need all of that as much as all of “that” needs me. It feels good to be home.

Maybe James Madison knew all of this, already. One doesn’t rise to a position of his stature without embracing the whole “work-life” balance and knowing that one really needs to take some time out to climb off the hamster wheel and get outside of your box every now and then just to appreciate all the things you have. It truly is “The Best Medicine” to cure what “ails ya”.

One of my best gal pals, Phoebe, tells me that I am living the book, “Eat. Pray. Love.” (Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, Elizabeth Gilbert(2006)) I, embarrassingly, have never read this book but if what Phoebe tells me of the story is true, then I am feeling satisfyingly full.

Thank you, P.O.D., for giving me a gift greater than you will ever know….and thank you to my friends who shared our travels with us and thank you to the new friends I made along our journey. Thanks, too, to the people and places of Provence for giving me a wonderful new perspective on my life.

Until next time, I remain….1SweetMama

1 comment:

ratu said...

I agreeeeeee!!! ice cream is my medicine..!! :)