Sometimes you need to carve time out of your day to neglect the very concept of time itself.
Last weekend, I spent three days in Nice, France. Everyone who I met in Nice exemplified what it meant to be…well, nice. Perhaps it is because the city itself resembles a dream, but everyone seemed unstoppably joyful and welcoming, as if they were completely in charge of their day and the emotions connected to it. The positivity and jubilance emitted by the folks of Nice demonstrated how different one’s relationship to the world can be when they change their mindset accordingly. As someone who is from New York and studies at Harvard, I am all too accustomed to folks who rarely take the time to breathe in their day—folks who are transfixed on getting to the next place, completing the next task, and stressing about the one after. Traveling to a city where the priority is to breathe, take each moment of each day in stride, and not to rush everywhere was so refreshing, and I saw it in action. After rushing into a store on Sunday evening about five minutes before it closed, I darted straight to back of the store to buy the items we needed. My friend stopped in the front to pet the owner’s dog, who seemed to gravitate towards him immediately. The store owner and I began conversating in French, and I let him know that my friend thought his dog was cute. Assuming he was in a rush to close up the store, I tried to quickly wrap up our conversation, but his eyes lit up. He delved into telling me in-depth story after in-depth story about the dog my friend was petting. I learned that his dog was a blind and deaf rescue who used to bite people but stopped once he was adopted by the storeowner. He spoke with so much fervor and passion about this pup, whose name was fittingly “Happy.” For some reason, I listened and engaged with this man for twenty-minutes about his dog. Despite the fact that the store was supposed to close 25 minutes before, and my friend and I were supposedly in a rush to get to dinner, our conversation was relentless. What was most inspiring about our conversation was how much this storekeeper loved his dog. He told me that he learns so much by owning a dog, especially one who others dismissed as hopeless and burdensome. He confidently asserted that despite all of the strife, every single moment he has had with his dog in the last twenty years has been worth it. At one point, the gentleman took a long pause and stared lovingly at his dog—he let me know that there in some of the early moments of him owning his dog, he grew weary and worried that he could not do it. A man—whose identity was not revealed—gave him the advice that in order to properly do this, he had to be willing to put his dog first. He told me that he had to be willing to be patient. I left that store emotional – this man didn’t care that the store closed, and he didn’t care how much time it would take to take care of Happy. He cared about the love he had for his dog, sharing that love with others, and prioritizing individual interactions that cannot be bought, fabricated, or created. Hilariously enough, in the middle of a store in Nice that we planned to stay in for five-ten minutes, I learned something special about taking your life in stride.