Posted by: Nick Ward | 14 August, 2010

Vivre La France, Vivre La Vie – Reflections

Holidays are a great time not only to chill and see new places, but also to have the headspace to think.

I kicked off this blog over the Java Sea two weeks ago on my way back to Australia after a brilliant three weeks in Europe, time to write after having had time to reflect on what’s going on in my life. It has been something I have tapped away at since.

France, where the last week of my Europe travels was spent, had been a good place to think. Tours, in the Loire Valley, and then Paris, were both beautiful and wonderful as they have been on every trip, but the unique stuff about France I believe is not in captured photos of beautiful places (of which, I would add, there are many in this wonderful country). It’s the whole emotional connectedness, dare I say angst, thing that sits under the surface.

The French are so Latin, so passionate. Where else could Film Noire have evolved. Edith Piaf. I really think it’s easier to connect with your thoughts and emotions when you are in France.

My friend Yves, in Tours, is sick. Cancer. He’s going to get through this, if I have anything to do with it. Problem is, I probably won’t. I’m not good at feeling powerless. A lot for me to reflect on.

My mum isn’t well either. A history as a smoker left her with emphysema. Initially it was a shortness of breathe, but it just got worse over the years, long after she had had her last cigarette. Now she’s on oxygen twenty-four hours a day, and she’s now constantly feeling like sleeping. She’s in hospital as I write. Powerless again. More reflection.

My problem as a crazy lover of life is that I don’t cope well with the other side of the coin. Aging and death are things I’m not in the slightest bit comfortable with. Never have been. Coming from the Gay Games, full of fit good looking gay men and lesbians looking half their age, the ironic juxtaposition with the glaring mortality of two people I love left me thinking.

Leaving aside the issue of death for a moment, do we overvalue youth and undervalue the richness of a person that can only come from age? In Yves & Jerome’s backyard grows a grapevine with sweet delicious ripe grapes, sitting alongside unripened grapes that are so bitter you can’t help but screw your face up. In our gay community a lot of the unripened fruit is pretty abrasive, yet we idolize it. I don’t claim innocence on this count. Far from it, I’m guilty as sin. Yet I also know that I spend most of my time socializing with my elders. How do I reconcile this?

I guess it’s by doing things like writing what you are reading now, and talking with friends. Processing the mortality of loved ones who are not young and fit any longer and who’s lives are at grave risk. Processing my own mortality and the fact that I will grow old and die, one day. And so will the gorgeous young men and women of this world, no matter how immortal they feel now.

Is the sexiest thing about vampires in this current New Moon craze the hot actors in the films, or is it the idea of eternal youth. I reckon the latter.

The irony that most of the best written (in my opinion) vampire books were set by Anne Rice in Paris is not lost on me. I reckon you feel way more in touch with life, love, sex, aging, and finally death, in France than anywhere else on this planet.

So there you go, I can’t be accused of not sharing my thoughts. This may be a travel blog, or more accurately destination blog, but it’s got some reflection mixed in. My experiences at the moment are influenced as much by my interplay with the significant people around me as they are by the places I am at any point in time.

I can be truly thankful for this time in France. I don’t think I would have given such time to pondering topics of aging and mortality, some with respect to two special people I love, some with respect to myself, anywhere else in the world. Next challenge is to see if I can now resolve the rather large personal issues I have with these.

It’s funny, I spend my whole life clutching onto life. Perhaps growing up requires me to stop guarding life and youthfulness and put all that saved energy into making every day the best it can possibly be.

Growing up… Mmmmm, next week perhaps.

Well, keeping in spirit of a blog with lofty aspirations and started in the air, it was also finished in the air, on a trans-continental (work) flight from Sydney to Perth. Sometimes you just have to finish things up in the air.

Postscript:

I am in the air again, on my way to Melbourne. Three hours ago I got a call to say my mum had taken a turn for the worse. While I was at the airport waiting for a flight rushing me to be with her, she died. My wonderful brother Richard put a phone to her ear so I could talk to her as she took her last breaths. I am so sad. I was going to can this blog, but on reflection, no. Mum always encouraged me to think about things, to share my thoughts. Everything that Richard and I got up to as kids, then as adults, she wanted to talk about. Not just places and people, but what their meaning was to us. She would have liked to talk about what I have written here. This is for her. I love you mum and miss you terribly already.

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Responses

  1. Hi Nick. Very sad – must be tough for you right now. Sorry for your loss. *hugs*

  2. very touching…..
    hope to see you soon at the pool side…..and the French that i can be will help you think more…..
    Pascal

  3. thanks for sharing, never easy
    my thoughts are with you and your family
    Andrew


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