French Philosophy On The Train To Toulouse
The announcements that crackle through the speakers of La Gare Saint Charles train station in Marseille are heralded by a beautiful female voice singing a sophisticated four-note melody. This of course makes sense because, after six days in France, I'm beginning to understand that as a people, Les Français' acceptance of the sometimes fleeting nature of happiness, is countered by a dedication to the simple pleasures in life that can always be counted on. So, the sandwich I bought from the kiosk in the station is better than anything our finest Whole Foods has to offer. The espresso I'm sipping in this train car – as I write these words – is richer and more flavorful than the porcelain-served versions in the best U.S. restaurants. The plush and well-appointed RailEurope seats recline to a nearly-horizontal plane, with plenty of pockets and sockets to stow my phone and accompanying accouterments.
With a bit of American hutzpah I take out my newly-beloved travel-sized guitar – The Taylor Guitars GS Mini-e Koa, for my fellow adventurous pickers and strummers – and pluck a few notes. Playing in public, unannounced and without cause will become my personal interpretation of French couples kissing in the street. It's an unabashed, unembarrassed expression of love, a random act of beauty. This country is crowded with similar displays... Melodious laughter, and bright flowers, and rich food, and striped scarves, and wicker bicycle baskets filled with baguettes. Sweet things and sweet nothings, because the ups and downs of life wash in and out like waves, rock back and forth like trains, hang low like the clouds above us now, foggily romantic and threatening rain.
Because, if you can't know when life will give you lemons, the very least the French will do is make lemon soufflé, make travel departures musical, lean back with ease and sip flawless coffee, zipping through the countryside at TGV speeds... Stealthily slowing down these priceless moments of our lives with meditative, guru-like mastery, just by savoring the delicious details of the little things.