He picked up a pebble
and threw it into the sea.
And another, and another.
He couldn’t stop.
He wasn’t trying to fill the sea.
He wasn’t trying to empty the beach.
He was just throwing away,
nothing else but.
Like a kitten playing,
he was practising for the future
when there’ll be so many things
he’ll want to throw away
if only his fingers will unclench
and let them go.
I noted down this poem, while reading the book “Seven ways to Lighten Your Life before You Kick the Bucket” of Walt Hopkins and George Simons. My reaction was evoked rather strongly. Maybe it was the last two sentences “if only his fingers will unclench and let them go“. Or maybe it was realisation that growing up makes it harder letting go, from small tangible objects to intangible feelings, and fact is the latter is much more difficult. I do not think we can ever get rid of feelings and thoughts, except knowing better to manage them, and accepting them. A nurse told me a while ago, “if the problems are in your head, you cannot run away from them“.
So I brought my problems with me coming to France, thinking me moving is an a metaphorical act of letting go. It turned out more as an act of running way.
My friends ask me “How is life in France so far?“. Every single time, I always stop for brief seconds before answering them. I was trying to search for and form appropriate answers to receivers. Are they my closed friends asking? Have they known anything about what I ran away from? Are they interested in long answers or simply “it has been okay“? Should I be totally honest or partly or not at all?
I think too much, don’t I?
But I do go through all thoughts. Sometimes, I even want to say “oh that is a hard question to answer to“. However, in fact, France has been generous to me. Mandalieu La Napoule has given me beautiful weather, so I can walk outside, breath in air filled with flowers blossoming, look at people slowly changing summer clothes & look at kids swimming in the sea and build sand castle. I am in my third week here, and there are so much more about this city I have not yet discovered. The city is small. I could have tried to pack ‘top things I need to see‘ in the city for my first week here. But I didn’t. I wanted to fight against force push of life’s flow. I would remain slow, and let my mood guide me of what to see in the city day after day. It is a little scary, noticing it is already my third week here but my level of knowing in this city is quite low, not to mention my French—which has not developed at all.
It is also a little more scary, noticing I had just been here for three weeks and felt as if I had been much longer. There were days waking up with much heaviness, and attempting to go through those days with as much positivity as possible, stretched out concept of time.
I am in my third week here, and Mandalieu already started to tell me “honeymoon phase is over“. It is not a bad thing though, I was totally prepared for it. I even was looking forward to it. I wanted to write this post at the end of my first week, but it has been delayed until now. Among all other reason, it was because I waited to see if there would be anything else coming up before I claimed all good sides about life being here. It is different between a travel life and actually living there, despite how much you wish to be authentic and interact with locals. See, I am not saying it as such a bad thing as some people might think. Travelling is supposed to grow different feelings inside you. Travelling is an escapism, a way for some finding their identity or just a new experience. Hence, despite how much you wish not to be seen as a tourist, you still are a tourist. As much as how people differs in living, tourists also differ in their travelling approaches. I just want to say, it is okay accepting the fact travelling mostly would just give you “honeymoon phase”. I did accept that, which is why I waited for signs that such phase might end. I moved here not for travelling. I moved here a new story in my life.
In this new story I am still on veriest first page, struggling of what words I should express, I found three secrets. One secret is about the person I see everyday. That person has gained a tremendous treasure of stories and experiences, and almost every topics I brought up for talking, the person would know what other relevant stories to share. Those stories are not only expressed through our conversations, but through objects, paintings, furnitures and books I noticed in the house. Some stories do not need to be told, but I can still hear it by the person’s face expression whenever evening time makes both of us a bit nostalgic and our souls are more quiet listening to life flowing. That treasure of experiences, I, again, only allow me to slowly discover. I don’t wish to see them all, because I value some private parts of my life, I suppose it is reasonable I respect others too. I do wish to see parts which surely would inspire me, would remind me of why I moved here originally and why I should “keep on keeping on” (from George & Walt’s book). This person has the passion and spirit for work & life I admire.
The other secret is about another person I have been hanging out with, one of most private people I have ever got to interacted with. I am normally not comfortable with silence, being next to someone else, except for my closed friends. For some reasons, with this person, I learned to get accustomed to the silence existing between us sometimes. In fact, I have been quite comfortable with it. Because it is a new person, a new kind of relationship to build between us, but we don’t try to push it. I am aware we might not have so many commons once we share things more, but we don’t try to force those commons for existing. We shared with the other what we felt like we wanted to share, in spite of whether having any spoken responds or just a simple face expression. Then, we kept other parts we don’t want the world to know, to ourselves. And maybe one day, when we get more comfortable, the stories will slip out. And maybe not. And that should be just fine. This person has a beautiful smile I adore, I even feel a bit disappointed those smiles are not expressed so often.
The last secret is myself. Travelling can become an addiction, and you might hear people sharing their endless stories of meeting different kinds of people. They are all true, as well as those alone moments with no friends/families/people you know around, which are often placed at corners of the stories. Leaving a place I called my second home city for a better cause was because I wanted to be better. Moving to a place where I mostly went through all inner battles alone, with no closed ones to run to for a hug or comfort is a reminder of loneliness. I craved for contacts few times when reminder hit. I would pick up my phone, scroll up and down seeing who I could contact, what things I could publish on social media to get attention from some. Yet, I still put those acts aside sometimes. I took a deep breath of silence, and I fight by myself. My daily battle has been being sensitive to myself, taking care of me, listening to me and loving me. I know I need to find me, love me before anyone else is allowed to. This is what I am fighting with, against any feelings telling me I should not do all those above things. So, last secret is I realise me being stronger and braver than I ever thought I was (a good one to admit).
Anyway, enough of my words. If you are already here, you deserve to see some nice scenes of Mandalieu, through my lense: