Updated: May 29, 2018
Unique. Soothing. Special. This premier post on the Balade Blog encompasses these three words. Thank you for being here! I’ll tell you a bit about me later and how this significant, soothing, and unique and significant experience (for me, that is) came to pass.
I believe words are important, sometimes life-changing; one should take care when selecting words. They represent us and become intricate threads of the exterior facing #tapestry that is woven with other bits of life to make us each unique. One of my favorite vignettes about uniqueness is from Le Petit Prince by French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry:
“To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world....”
“Tu seras pour moi unique au monde. Je serai pour toi unique au monde…”
In a busy and constantly connected world full of notifications and social media blasts, uniqueness feels unattainable. What I adore about the excerpt above is that it only takes one person, one experience to foster uniqueness. What we do in life is often as important as the words we share, our actions and experiences building the character and detail in each personalized tapestry: adventures, places, failures, successes, growth, learning, and so much more. Another element I appreciate about this quote is the action that precedes it - to tame. Now there’s a carefully selected word. Think of taming as a holistic experience, the act of mastering something. The fox says to the Little Prince:
"To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.”
In French, apprivoiser - to tame. Profond, non? Who and what have you tamed in life? Or what do you hope to tame in the future? How can simple moments be special and forever distinct in your memory? How are you - the one-of-a-kind you - unique?
Hold onto those reflections for a moment, and let’s move back to your personalized tapestry. Can you imagine it? What are the colors used? the images? the medium? Have you ever seen an ancient tapestry up close? My favorite one is probably the Bayeux Tapestry because I had the opportunity to see it up close and in person. I admit that there was a time when I did not find much value in tapestries other than the practical and peculiar: most are extremely old - ancient even, tapestries kept many a cold, stone châteaux warm during winter months in addition to providing decorative elements that were portable. Then, I saw the Bayeux Tapestry, and I immediately understood that tapestries are essentially the hippest multipurpose pieces of art produced by the human race (and I should add that technically, all of the scenes in the Bayeux Tapestry are embroidered - not woven - but it has always been referred to as a tapestry because of its artistry and storytelling). The tapestry recounts events from the point of view of French, Norman, Breton, and Flemish soldiers who invaded and occupied England, an intense power struggle that is often referred to as The Norman Conquest. The tapestry’s length is most impressive at over 200 feet long and was most likely commissioned and made in the 11th century - yes, it’s almost one thousand years old! #MiaHansson is currently recreating the masterpiece stitch by stitch, and she thinks it will take over a decade to complete (#goals and #dedication right? I should add that she's already been working on it for two years). At any rate, the images add to historical accounts and provide detail that textual resources centering on these events lack. The Bayeux Tapestry is definitely not the most beautiful or most complex tapestry out there, but what resonates with me most is its ability to tell a complete and unique story. #bayeuxtapestry
Circling back to modern times, I like to think about our personal tapestries as storyboards of our lives that expound upon what we have said, written, or what others have said or written about us. Tapestries help tell stories. They were successful at educating an illiterate public back in the Dark Ages, and they continue to make our words and experiences more multifaceted and vibrant today. Medieval version of Instagram? Indeed.
So why are words and stories important to me? Why all of this chatter about tapestries and taming? I’m a linguist at heart and by profession (francophile, did you notice?), and I believe that experiences - primarily those gained through travel and exploration - are the threads woven together to produce unique and beautiful #tapestries that go along with each of our life stories. The French word #balade describes a pleasurable walk or stroll, and that’s why I chose it for the blog. Every experience, big or small, is a little balade where we can find pleasure, fulfillment, and most importantly, uniqueness. For me, the goal of this blog is to highlight the little balades that perpetuate the proverbial taming of life. I hope you’ll follow along.
Bon Voyage et Belle Balade.
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