" … with a fairly good grasp of the language, I was convinced that I would soon assimilate into French culture.
Of course, I was wrong. There’s nothing like cultural nuance to remind you who you are at your core: my Americanness became all the more perceptible the longer I remained in France, and perhaps no more so than the day a French teacher told me his theory on the key distinction between those from my native and adopted lands.
“You Americans,” he said, “live in the faire [to do]. The avoir [to have]. In France, we live in the être [to be].”
The moment he said it, it made perfect sense. I thought back to my life in New York, where every moment was devoted to checking tasks off a perpetual to-do list or planning for the days, weeks and years to come. In France, however, people were perfectly contented to just be." Emily Monaco
I have frequently been accused of living too much in the "etre" rather than the "faire." At times people have been more specific to the point of saying that I am an unnatural American, someone who ought to go hide myself somewhere among people more like me, like maybe in Mediterranean Europe. They were probably right in saying that.
At the US Army War College, I was judged to be the most Type B officer on post at Carlisle Barracks. I was assigned as home work to the semi-psycho extreme Type A guys. They were told to watch me and to try to learn to calm down. These were the kind of people who would spike little kids in the head in volleyball games, just to win, anything to win, all the god damned time.
Being Type A or B doesn't have anything to do with how aggressive you are or how much you accomplish. No. It has to do with your attitude toward life.
Perpignan to the Spanish border, we should have emigrated to somewhere along there. pl