Friday, July 25, 2014

Epiphany Island

I guess I haven't blogged about it yet but my first few weeks here in France were rough. They were rough last year but I blamed it on the fact that I had already been travelling for six weeks and had only spent one week of the past five plus months in Canada. I like France but the bottom line is, it's a foreign country and even though I understand and can communicate in the language, it's not my mother tongue so fully expressing myself is difficult. Also, my job is housework. I don't like housework at the best of times and even though I get to do it in a beautiful place, I still don't like it. So PMS and homesickness and missing Canada Day and the start of summer and the fact that my parents were on vacation so I couldn't just Skype with them whenever I wanted, resulted in me feeling very alone and unhappy for the first few weeks I was here. I reached out to a few people but the general consensus was "You're in France. You're not allowed to complain." Or feel any emotion other than ecstatic happiness apparently. That was frustrating in it's own way.
Anyway, the third week I was here I went to Île Saint-Honorat on my day off. It's the smaller of the two Lérins Islands which are both just off the coast in the Bay of Cannes. I visited the larger one, Île Sainte-Marguerite, last year and this year I made it to Saint-Honorat. It was a crazy hot day and even though I stopped and bought lunch at the Monoprix and an extra bottle of water, I probably still could have had more liquids. The island has been home to monks since the fifth-century and they cultivate six types of grapes for wine and olives for oil. There are a number of small chapels dotted around it and the main church in the middle.

I wandered around taking in the peacefulness of the place and generally avoiding all other humans because I wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone.

I picked a spot overlooking the channel between Saint-Honorat and Saint-Marguerite for my picnic lunch. I also read a bit of the book I had with me and took a short nap under the trees. At some point during my time of reflection I realized something really simple. Something that everyone else probably realizes but something I needed to recognize as an attitude adjustment.

I don't HAVE to do my work here in France.
I GET to.

That's it. That's my big epiphany. I know a lot of people are probably thinking...yeah so. What's the difference. Or, how did you not realize that before? But that's just the point. I didn't and once I did, it was like the clouds lifted and the sun shone through. I guess it's because this is my second time here (and by here I mean in France at this job). The first time everything was new and exciting. I was constantly learning and discovering and I was dazzled by the beauty of this corner of the world. This year the shine has worn off. The sparkle is gone and while I'm glad I came, the romance is lost and it just feels like hard work. Still, I realize I am extremely lucky to be able to do a job like this, not once but twice.

I probably won't be back. Not to work anyway. And if I do it won't be next year. I need to spend a summer in Canada. I think deep down I maybe didn't want to come back this year. Or if I did my motives were wrong. I came back because it was easy. I mean I had the job given to me. Mine for the taking. All I had to do was say yes. That's way easier than applying for the jobs I want post graduation. Coming here was guaranteed. Plus it looks great. Not only to future employers, which was my rationale, but to my friends. And that's where my motive was wrong. I came because people were jealous that I get to be here and that's wrong. In the weeks leading up to leaving, I wasn't excited. I wasn't looking forward to leaving. I was already missing everyone back home. I booked my ticket and packed and came out of duty. I had committed and there was no backing out. But I would have been perfectly fine to stay in Canada. And that's why this epiphany was so important. Because my day on this little island where people have been reflecting for over fifteen hundred years, I realized just how lucky I am and I adjusted my attitude and I've been a lot happier since.

The pictures of me in this post were taken after my little revelation. Yeah I could fake a smile before but now these ones are genuine. Genuinely happy. Genuinely content. Genuinely in love with life. And ready to tackle the duties I have for the next five weeks that I am here, because I get to. Not because I have to.

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