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Outside of the Comfort Zone

While I’m here in Nice dividing time between business emails, beaching it and social engagements, I’m writing a memoir. At least I’m trying.

One might think this is an easy task. But venturing down the paths deep into your brain to the past, and then to put that past into words, much less simple thoughts, is the proverbial stroll down memory lane accompanied by both the pleasure and the pain of those memories.

I have always been one to focus on the present — a devotee of Eckhart Tolle’s philosophy of putting power into the now, rather than the past or the future…and here I am reliving the past in my head and on paper (or at least on the screen of a computer). In all the dreaming about the future I might have done in the past, thinking that I would have an even remotely interesting story to tell about my past was not part of it.

Then, Paris happened.

Before Paris, there was no tale to tell. There wasn’t a single thing interesting about my life that would warrant writing a memoir. I was as ordinary as apple pie. I was doing just what everyone else was doing: working, spending time with family and friends and vacationing from time to time. Life was so boring that one winter I sat in front of the fireplace from October to March and knitted 13 sweaters. I could count all our friends on one hand and a thrilling Sunday afternoon outing was wandering down the aisles of a gourmet food market.

Traveling is how it started, of course. Until you have traveled, you don’t know what you are missing. Some people don’t want to know. They would rather be content being where they are knowing what they know and never opening their horizons for other pastures, even if not greener than their own. I heard a story recently about someone who had never traveled outside of the U.S. and was so loathe to consider it that she actually said, “I hope I never HAVE TO go anywhere outside of the United States.”

This is a statement that is impossible to comprehend. What is life if not to discover it? And how is one to discover it without venturing out into the world? There is such a huge world to discover that no one can master it in a lifetime. Our experiences, as vast as they might or could be, is yet a tiny fraction of the possibilities.

Now that I’m into 22 years of this adventure called “France” which I will celebrate in just two weeks time, I can look back at the thousands of stories I now have to tell — so many that the hardest part about writing the memoir is what not to write…but what must be edited OUT as the less deserving stories OUT. Every day living in France is an adventure with no idea what the future will bring (do we ever really know no matter how much we plan?) creating a much richer past upon which to reflect.

Every Expat I know living here, whether part or full-time, is on the same kind of roller coaster ride adventure. They all have stories to tell — the kind they wouldn’t have had if they hadn’t ventured out of their previous comfort zones.

Nice became a part of my adventure a few years ago…just another blip on the journey that paves little roads in my brain and sentences on paper. As I sit here in one of my favorite cafés, watching the Mediterranean tide hit the pebbly shore and the tan tourists stroll past under the breezy palms, I feel a real sense of contentment for having left ye old comfort zone. Unlike only a few people I know, I sincerely “hope I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO go EVERYwhere outside of the United States”…or outside of anywhere, not just the U.S., for that matter!

Great memoirs about France to read (until mine is out!):

* My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home by Lisa Anselmo

* Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

* Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull

* French Toast: An American in Paris Celebrates the Maddening Mysteries of the French by Harriet Welty Rochefort (shelved 1 time as france-travel-memoir)

* French Spirits: A House, a Village, and a Love Affair in Burgundy by Jeffrey Greene

And so many others on our list of recommended readings.

A la prochaine,

Adrian Leeds
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group

(Photo by Erica Simone)

Respond to Adrian

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P.S. I have helped dozens of people find their path. If you have an inkling to leave your comfort zone, take the leap to live in France and would like to learn how to do it, just like me and all the other Expats living here, visit ALG Consultation or email me for a personal consultation: [email protected]


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