No, there’s no question mark at the end of that title. I’m not asking a question. I’m thinking about all the little everyday experiences which make life special
In the summer this year, in a little bookshop in the heart of France, I stumbled across a beautiful, inspirational book called “Le Sel de la Vie”, by Françoise Héritier. Then a couple of weeks ago, in my favourite independent little bookshop in Scotland, The Watermill, I stumbled across an English translation of the same book. I had no idea it had been translated and its just as engaging and inspiring in translation as it was in the original French. One of the strange things about translation is that “le sel” is “salt”, so the literal translation of the title would be “The salt of life”. However, to grasp the true essence of the original text it’s been translated as “The Sweetness of Life”. How interesting! Salt or sweet? Both work for me, and when combined (like in my delicious starter above) it can be even more special.
This little book is like no other book I’ve ever read. The author wrote it in response to a colleague’s postcard from his holiday on the Isle of Skye. He described the holiday as “stolen” and that got her thinking about how we spend our time and how he was stealing his own life by failing to be in touch with all the daily little experiences which made life so special, so sweet……
Given my recent post on the one sentence, I was really struck by this part of her introduction
So what follows here is an enumeration, an ordinary list in one long sentence……
I can’t really quote you any of the book because whenever I start it, I can’t stop it! She writes, in one long flowing list, using a free association method, listing sensations, experiences, memories which she considered to be everyday special. Does “everyday special” strike you as odd? I think this is such a key element to living a great life – to be constantly in touch with the “everyday special”. Believe me, if you can’t find the special in the everyday, you’re not awake!
OK, difficult though it is to stop, here’s a wee sample
….phone calls made for no reason, handwritten letters, family meals (well, some of them), meals with friends, a beer at the bar, a glass of red or white wine, coffee in the sun, a siesta in the shade, eating oysters at the seaside or cherries straight off the tree…..
You get the idea?
I think if you dip into this little book and read a line or two before setting off into the day each morning, you’ll heighten your “everyday special” awareness. It’s almost like a different kind of meditation. But the other thing which this book inspires is to start your own list (in fact, the English language version has a few blank lined pages at the end to encourage you to do just that)
Go on, try it…..