At number 4, Rue de Sévigné in Paris there is a Cider bar. The name is simple and lovely as the place itself: Cidrerie du Marais. I found it by chance, while wandering around the city. It was a rainy Summer day and my next appointment wouldn´t be for the next couple of hours. Not a hard decision at all to get in, and choose a seat by the door.

Savouring my cider alone in the empty place, watching the clouds passing by, I enjoyed the coming sun stretching its rays, while the gentle summer breeze carried all troubles away. I think the technical term for what I felt that day is joie de vivre. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel during a pandemic. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel when you lose a friend.

The world is full of people, but one single beloved person goes away and, suddenly, there is a huge empty space in our world, don´t you think?

Last week was very hard and, frankly, I believe you had your share of grief and pain yourself, so instead of talking about the seemingly endless sad hours I went through, I would like to turn this into a feel good post, and share a few glimpses of happiness I had over the last couple of days:

I found out there is a passion fruit plant in front of my building.

I saw an orange butterfly and it flew quite close to me for a while.

A friend of mine told me he could see my point and changed his mind about a sensitive subject.

One of my former German students (long story, but in another life I was a German teacher) contacted me and thanked my for helping her embrace change and follow her dream career.

I guess this is as much joie de vivre one could wish for now. Small miracles are all around.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. Click here for four and a half minutes of joie de vivre

Life on Mars? is a 1971 song by David Bowie and I could not help remembering its verse “Oh man, look at those cavemen go”, as I watched the Perseverance rover landing on the Red Planet. It is amazing what an increased brain size (even if it consumes about twenty percent of the body’s energy) and a opposable finger in the palm can do for a species! Come on, don´t you feel a little bit prouder to be part of the human being club, when you see the achievements of knowledge? I cried my eyes out during the live broadcast!

It was deeply moving to see the gender and age (although there´s still room for racial) diversity of the team at NASA and their true commitment to the mission. Talking from my own experience as a singer/songwriter and as a researcher, I know that passion is a key element to both art and science, together with what I call a contract with the human kind. The contract goes far beyond the simple awareness of being part of humanity, let´s say, accidentally by birth, but also the further step in the direction of actively contributing to its legacy. Think about songs, movies, photos, smartphones, glasses, wheelchairs… you got the idea.

I am afraid and ashamed to say that the pandemic made me have serious doubts about that contract. People having parties and going to crowded beaches, refusing to wear a mask or sabotaging the immunization process, emergency funds being misused, the list is long and I am only giving examples of what happens in my own country. How to keep that contract in such a context? How not to become profoundly disappointed with human beings? How to avoid perpetual bitterness? How not to give up? I believe Perseverance is the answer.

Oh man, look at those cavemen go.

Be seeing you!

G.F.