Yesterday NPR aired an interview with the 90 year old Rosamond Bernier about her memoir entitled Some of my Lives. What struck me about the piece wasn’t the obvious privilege that put her in the position to meet some of the greatest figures of the 20th century, but the spirit that embraced her opportunities with curiosity and enthusiasm. The NPR article online begins:
“In 1947, Vogue magazine sent Rosamond Bernier to Paris to cover European cultural life as it recovered after World War II. She met everyone who was anybody — Pablo Picasso befriended her, Henri Matisse gave her fashion tips, Alice B. Toklas baked for her. Bernier's memoir Some of My Lives is a lively compendium of this movable feast of art and genius — and of the author's own considerable charm.”
It’s hard not to envy the opportunities Ms. Bernier’s circumstances afforded her and yet how many other wealthy young women of her time sat on the sidelines and never took advantage of the world their position opened to them? Many young women are charming, but Ms. Bernier’s curiosity and willingness to put herself out there endeared her to the creative geniuses of her time in a way no amount of money or parental influence could do.
As I listened to the piece, I couldn’t help but think about my favorite movie of 2011, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, where Gil (Owen Wilson) travels back in time and is befriended by literary legends Hemmingway, Stein, and the Fitzgeralds. Gill had Woody Allen and a great script to fulfill his dream but he also had a joie de vivre that opened him to new experiences.
I realized that joy is something anyone can have and interesting connections can be made no matter who or where you are. I’m lucky to live in a big city, so why don’t I go to art galleries, museums, concerts on a regular basis? Every week there are author signings at bookstores around the city, cultural events, speakers on all kinds of fascinating topics. Our universities, community colleges and specialty schools offer continuing education classes in everything from languages to ancient philosophy to wine tasting. And hundreds of special interest organizations welcome interested newcomers. There are sporting events, fairs, arboretums, parks. The sad truth is I get too busy with my day to day routine and don’t make time for these adventures and the interesting people I wouldn’t meet otherwise.
If I want to live my own charmed life, I need to embrace more of the wonderful experiences my world has to offer. As of today, I plan to do something that enriches my life at least once a week. Can’t wait to research all the choices I have for this weekend!
What is it that makes you feel alive and happy? If you defined a your own version of a Charmed Life, what would it be?