n'allez pas trop vite . . .

OR --

in the language of Simon & Garfunkel:

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last...

Not that I'm not pleased in SO MANY WAYS when the winter months speed by, but lately it seems that the world is spinning at a dizzying rate, which has everything to do, I am sure, with a looming deadline.

(Although my father recently said something to the effect that the nearer he gets to 80, the weekends seem to come so quickly that soon he expects his life to be a series of Sundays with no weeks in between at all.  But then he suspects that has something to do with a looming deadline as well.)

So it could also be a function of age I suppose, but at any rate today seems like a good day to be reminded to slow down and smell a rose or two (or perhaps savor the diet coke a little...)

Which brings me to the point --
I've been reading something really wonderful:

How Proust Can Change Your Life,  by Alain de Botton

Santa hit it out of the park with this gift!  Although I was an English major, I am unfortunately not well-acquainted with Proust -- a situation which will be rectified after I have finished this.  And it is one of the most delightful surprises of a little book!  One of the reviewers described it as "seriously cheeky...cheekily serious", a type of writing that has tremendous appeal to me.

I recommend it to one and all -- regardless of your previous relationship (or lack of one) with Proust.

Marcel Proust

In one passage, a young diplomat named Harold Nicolson recounts meeting Proust at a party in 1919.  Proust asked him questions about his work --

"Will I please tell him how the Committees work. I say, 'Well, we generally meet at 10:00, there are secretaries behind...'

[after which Proust interrupts him with a string of french -- which I'm delighted to say I could understand -- begging him to slow down and begin again. Roughly translated: 'You go to the building, you climb the stairs, you enter the room... and then?  Tell me everything....']

'So I tell him everything.  The sham cordiality of it all: the handshakes: the maps: the rustle of papers: the tea in the next room: the macaroons.  He listens enthralled, interrupting from time to time -- n'allez pas trop vite.'"

The author of the book continues:  

"And an advantage of not going by too fast is that the world has a chance of becoming more interesting in the process.  For Nicolson, an early morning that had been summed up by the terse statement "Well we generally meet at 10:00" had been expanded to reveal handshakes and maps, rustling papers and macaroons -- the macaroon acting as a useful symbol, in its seductive sweetness, of what gets noticed when we don't go by trop vite."

My stitching is so slow, but -- alas --  
my mind continues to go so fast . . .

Perhaps if I were to enjoy a mental macaroon or two along the way, 
it would improve not only the process but eventually the product as well. 

A perfect reminder for a too-hurried Tuesday.  

Pass the cookies, please.



Leenie said...

Deadlines do so telescope and accelerate time. They mess with your mind and ruin your dreams both awake and asleep. I'll toast with a macaroon your nimble fingers and mind and wish you much success.

As for Proust, he'll have to go on the back burner and simmer while I chew on The Hedgehog. I made it past chapter 5 and the discussion on phenomenology, which is where I quit last time. I think I understand the direction of those "profound thoughts" this time and I'm liking the book more.

susan m hinckley said...

Phenomenology is exactly the part where I wrote the post saying I was not smart enough to read the book! Press on -- it gets better. (And this book is a much breezier read.)

Judy said...

I had heard of this book, and with your recommendation, I am sold (and so is another copy on Amazon).

Nancy said...

I'm glad I read this while eating a mint dilly bar. Savoring moments.... Because somehow when we cram moments too full of stuff, they lose value instead of gaining. I was just thinking this morning that "n'allez pas trop vite" is going to be the motto I put on the wall of my office when I finally finish grad school and become a therapist. Now, how fast can I get this degree?

susan m hinckley said...

hahahaha -- love you, Nancy!

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