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March 3, 2023

I'm in love with a Frenchman

8:10 a.m. at the coffee shop
There is no other way to put it — I’m in love with a Frenchman. And not just any Frenchman! Journalist, writer and literary critique, BERNARD PIVOT (born on May 5, 1935) is famous for his cultural talk shows, interviews with other writers and his clear and literary manner of speaking. I just love hearing what he has to say, especially since he retired and devotes his time to writing about his daily life and its ups and downs.

Bernard, who’s part of a close crew of brilliant elderly men, celebrates his nearly 87 years of life. I imagine he’s as funny as he is serious when he describes in detail the unwanted appearance of symptoms of his degeneration. An intellectual who probably browses his specialized dictionaries while enjoying a fine glass of red wine.

I recently finished reading his most recent book, Mais la vie continue (“But life goes on”), and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much, in fact, that I want to share with you, dear readers, the last chapter in which the serious patriarch enumerates 7 pledges on which he wants to build his final years and remember for as long as possible.

I have the firm intention of honouring each of these commitments myself so I will list them for you here:
1 – Never complain.
2 – Be in a good mood, as much as possible.
3 – Nurture my curiosity, read, keep an inquiring mind and learn.
4 – Do not isolate myself; talking with others is proof of vitality.
5 – Reap the benefits of old age.
6 – Add to my life, enrich it and make it better.
7 – Dream with eyes wide open, desire and plan for the future.

I consider these life pledges like the best gift I’ve ever received. Think about it for a minute! Time goes by so fast and everyday life is demanding. We generally don’t have time to reflect upon our well-being.

1– Complaining is like dropping a pot of soup: It serves no purpose at all and we are stuck cleaning the mess it created, inside and out.

2– Mumbling and arguing hardens the heart and gets it used to never being satisfied. It’s no use and people usually steer clear of grumps.

3– Humans have wanted to learn more, be better informed, entertain themselves and read since they invented writing. If we don’t uphold our curiosity as we age, it’s as though we take home the ugliest and dullest Halloween pumpkin. People think it’s rotten and quickly lose interest in it.

4– Old folks who no longer care to mingle can easily become isolated. They become like turtles hiding with their heads under their shells. They have a hard time socializing and slowly lose their vitality.

5– Some seniors live like garlic braids, all dried up and hidden away in a pantry. They are so terrified of loosening up the purse strings that they remain tightly braided, clinging to their precious habits. They don’t take advantage of what old age has to offer, and even their loved ones distance themselves from them.

6– A jaded, boring elderly is like a soufflé without egg whites. They don’t marvel at anything, never share anything new or learn from their close ones. They remain isolated in their cocoon. Nobody wants to enrich their life.

7 – Dreaming with eyes wide open is characteristic of all human beings. As we age, however, we tend to believe we are too old to keep dreaming of new adventures and travels or to go after our heart’s desires. How wrong! At our venerable age, it is now or never. I will certainly go back to Gaspésie this summer. I will stay there even longer, take pictures, talk with the locals and go deep-sea fishing.

What about you, dear readers? What will you do to bring a little extraordinary into the ordinary of everyday life? What will you do to honour the life pledges of dear BERNARD PIVOT??

Will you court a friendly neighbour? Flirt with an old flame? Or will you register for a cooking class? Maybe learn Spanish? Walk a few steps towards the Camino? Take off on a cruise or grab a pen to immortalize your life?

Maybe that’s what it means to “dream with eyes wide open.” Try new things. Wear light-pink clothes in the dead of winter and adorn a collar with flowers. Learn how to play a new musical instrument. Sleep during the day when tired or spend an entire night binge-watching a series on Netflix.

Let’s stop our incessant train of thought for a moment and reflect. Let’s jot down what matters the most to us and allow our inner voice to speak. Let’s forget the past and focus on the future.

These days, age is my “free pass.” If I add a nice cane to it, I can go anywhere. I’m telling you! I’ve already begun. I started travelling across our beautiful country once again, reprising my role as the Founder of Cora restaurants. And I love these short trips.

I’m the luckiest of the lucky for being loved by so many Canadians: franchise owners, restaurant employees, loyal customers and you, my very dear readers, who keep me youthful and passionate about writing.