La vie en rose! La vie en rose, they say. But what does it all mean?
Literally translated, ‘la vie en rose’ is life in pink, the equivalent to seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses or rosy hues.
And as Edith Piaf sings,
“When he takes me in his arms
And speaks softly to me,
I see life in rosy hues.
He tells me words of love,
Words of every day,
And in them I become something.”
The French version of ‘la vie en rose’ sounds magical and filled with romance, whereas the English ‘rose coloured-glasses’ is accompanied by eye-rolling and has the sense that it’s not reality and soon enough we will take off the glasses and see things as they really are. It’s not always fun to be so practical.
We’d probably all get on better if we slipped on our rose shades and saw the good in each other, making the best with what we’ve got and not blaming the beloved for putting the unripe avocado in the fridge or leaving crumbs on the kitchen bench.
This past weekend as I headed out west to Swiss French country, I heard a talk with Arielle Ford on her book and concept of Wabi Sabi Love. Not to be mistaken with the brain freezing delight that is Wasabi, Wabi Sabi is a Japanese perspective or aesthetic of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Characteristics of this aesthetic includes asymetry, roughness or irregularity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes and it inspires in us feelings of melancholy and ‘spiritual longing’.
Arielle Ford took this concept and came up with Wabi Sabi Love, describing it as ‘the ancient art of finding perfect love in imperfect relationships’. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?! It’s basically about finding a different way to view the things that bug you about your partner, so that you can live in harmony. This includes the bread crumbs and the toilet seat. That’s la vie en rose, baby!
But anyway, unknowingly, when I arrived in Geneva I slipped on my rose coloured glasses and found me some Wabi Sabi of my own.
The day was as grey as any but stepping off the train, my soul was uplifted and joyous. Some cities are like that. My eyes are wide open and I see beauty in the cracks in the pavements. It’s all about the details. It’s the little things for me.
And travelling is a lot like dating. There are some places that set your heart on fire and others that you’re ‘just not that into’. There’s no gel and you aren’t on the same wavelength, no matter if you try or not. It’s best to move on from those ones and focus your attention on the ones that light you up.
You see a beautiful city as she dances and you feel her heart beat in your veins.
Some cities are made for wandering and hanging. Paris is like that. Paris is all about the side-streets and forgotten parks, the glimpses of life we get through an open door, the inner courtyards and sidewalk cafes. To a lot of the French though, we are seeing Paris through rose-coloured glasses.
Still, we persist… it’s love! C’est l’amour, we say with a shrug.
Beauty is in the attention we give to something or someone.
So what if we gave our attention to the people and places we know best. We could pay radical attention to the aestheticism of the place we know and find the magic of Paris in our city.
It’s about noticing the cracks in the pavement or whatever turns you on. That’s la vie en rose, baby!
Question : Which city do you have Wabi Sabi love for?