laissez faire

My friend Céline was in town last week for a few-day stay in L.A. at the end of her West Coast tour.  Amidst metro rides and an evening at the Hollywood Bowl, we packed a bit of Californian cuisine and sultry summer nights into her overstuffed backpack before she boarded her flight back home.  Céline and I met through our mutual friend Hector, my buddy of over a decade: fellow traveler and artiste bohème extraordinaires.  From France to Portugal and now Los Angeles, Céline and I have shared cross-cultural stories with each other in three countries.  This time around though, I was drawn to hearing about her life as a professor at a small university in Northern France.  One of the first things she revealed to me was that there is no “publish or perish” mentality within academic circles in France.  Professors are allowed to be just that, and there is time for research and writing on the side but the two don’t especially compete, nor do colleagues, as no one is vying to take your spot.  There is life outside of work.  Céline’s persona is not defined by her profession.  She enjoys her work but seeks inspiration and stimulation from life itself, and doesn’t hold work responsible for being the sole provider of such.  She seems to have a very peaceful balance and I loved seeing her actually live it out in practice.  It’s the balance that includes being content with things the way they are; not living in the headspace that constantly pushes us to bigger and greater achievements just for the sake of achieving.  It’s knowing when to drown out the insatiable, ego-driven voice, the western-winged Americana of always moving, seeking, changing.

It was so refreshing to witness her peace of mind within this balance, and the mere fact that it struck me as unique is a testament to how novel this philosophy is here in this competitive, overly ambitious, let’s brag- about- our- stress-level society.  It was inspiring to see her not just talk about a balance but live it.  It was her own personalized version of a 21st century laissez-faire… “deliberate abstention from interference with individual freedom.”  In practice, it’s usually always our own mind causing the interference.  Yet in this case, I think Céline has mastered it, at least for the time being.   There really is no secret to it, as we are all the keepers of our own golden key. It’s just a matter of unlocking the ‘let live and be.’ How sweet a philosophy.

Blurring the lines: culture, career, creativity.  Photo thanks to the shaky hand of  a local plumber.


~ by maureenmoore on September 1, 2011.

6 Responses to “laissez faire”

  1. She sounds like a delightful person! How interesting to have friends that live world-wide!! ~

  2. Meaningful for article for my to consider as I am thick in the thick with academia

    • yes. clearly environment and other uncontrollable factors play a big role in the grande scheme of it all, but then again so do we as individuals. yin & yang.

  3. Very touching contemplation on what it means to live in balance. As a fellow American balance seeker, I think often about why this concept is so elusive for Americans. It seems in the US we are raised on the American Dream which very much equates material success with happiness. This message is engraved into our psyche. This message generates this sense that we could be doing more all the time to generate more wealth. Do more. Be more successful. And getting only 2 weeks off a year doesn’t help either. Love this discussion. let’s keep it rolling..

    • we will keep it rolling! in practice. a declaration of accountability to all other balance-seekers! 😉

  4. Wow, that was great… it felt like a verbal organic bamboo down comforter for the soul! We should all have the approval of our spirit, to always be enough no matter what we are doing or not doing so long we are being true to our inner voice.

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