Saturday, June 15, 2019

the art of saying bonjour (2)

Upon entering the "take off your shoes" area at the local pool last Sunday, I said Bonjour to a man as I took a seat close to him on a bench. The Bonjour just came off spontaneously; I was not working my smile as much as when I make a conscious effort to say Bonjour or to interact with someone. As soon as I began removing my shoes, I sensed that this man was looking insistently at me, as if he was trying to get my attention. I looked towards him and indeed, he was about to ask me a question. So I took off my earbuds to listen to what he had to say. "On se connaît ?" ("Do we know each other?"). I replied no. I could read some surprise on his face before it gave way to something more relaxed. He then said something that I was unable to register. The only thing I could make out was "C'est poli" ("That's polite"). I smiled, he smiled too, and then I was off to the changing rooms ‒ but not before we shared a "Bonne journée !" ("Have a good day!").

Ah, good ol' Bonjour. I have learned during my time here in France that it is common to say "Bonjour" to people that you more or less know or that you need to get information or something else from. But never to random strangers that you don't intend to have a conversation with. I will not go as far as to say "That is a shame", but I will say this: saying Bonjour to random people merely for the sake of doing it can be therapeutic. Both for the giver and the receiver. But especially the giver.

It is surely for this reason that I aim to give out bonjours to fifty random people each day in Paris for the rest of the year. Outdoors, indoors, in the metro, and almost anywhere else.

The more love I can put into each bonjour, the more I can heal. Hopefully at the same time the receiver can heal too.