Location: La Ciotat, Nr Cassis, France.
It was our last night in this quiet French seaside town, just a few kilometers from the busier Cassis, the picturesque seaside resort popular for its Calanques (sea creeks). Our original plans had been to stay in Cassis, but the weekend crowd had flushed our hotel plans in a different direction. Instead, we had landed in the King’s Hotel in La Ciotat with a room overlooking the hotel’s private beach, far from the tourist crowds.
Now, as the sounds of the sea rocked us to their rhythm, we planned our last evening. My friend and I had been strolling on the rocky beach with our new friend, a young businessman from Holland. As we debated our options, our European friend suggested something simple, but unusual for two American career women. He said, “How about sharing my bottle of French wine on the beach this evening after dinner?”
I was amazed, struck by a sudden revelation. Standing before me was the answer to the reason for this trip, the quest for a change in our lifestyles. My friend and I had escaped hectic schedules to rediscover the “joie de vivre” in France. I couldn’t resist this incredible opportunity.
“Europeans know how to just be!” I jumped excitedly, halting the quiet pace of our afternoon stroll. “To just be?” he asked, perplexed at this foreign phrase. “We would have pulled out our Michellin guide and tried to squeeze in the last detail of a tourist icon, another monument, or a crowded café with strolling accordionists. So, will you show us how to just be?” I asked.
He responded with a gallant twinkle in his eye, “I will teach you what I know about ‘just being’, ” he said. “And, I will design a certificate of graduation from the University of Just Being for you.”
That night, my friend and I listened attentively as he shared his lifestyle in Holland.
It was clear that his focus was on relationships and finding simple ways of creating shared experiences. Those are the memories that make up our lives. It was one of the most important lessons from my trip…the journey that leads us to another world of experiences and ideas and changes our lives. That’s the adventure of travelling!
By tbe way, one week after our return, our Dutch instructor emailed us a certificate. I am now a proud alumni of the University of Just Being.