It was the summer of 1979. Thanks to a student loan I was in Paris studying French, which I didn’t retain and Art History, which I preserved with many future visits to museums. I felt so cosmopolitan sipping a café au lait while enjoying a freshly baked croissant before classes began. We sat at a café off of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Half the day was spent in classes. By afternoon I was walking for hours getting to know the city of lights.
Those were the highlights. Yet there was so much I didn’t know. Back in our dorm room we had a bidet. I was too insecure to ask how to use it or what it was for. I thought, since we were in a women’s dorm, that it was a douche. What I knew about douches I learned in Summer’s Eve commercials back in New Jersey. When my roommates from other college exchange programs asked if I knew how to use it. I lied. I said, “Yes.” Not knowing seemed as if it wasn’t an option for me.
As memorable as the summer of “79 was, I recall my insecurities as much as I remember the amazing gifts of that European summer. Over 40 years later and I still recall what my wonderful art history professor taught us every time I go on walks, recognizing the architecture. Or, appreciating a painting in a gallery or museum because of what she imparted in our classes and tours. I’m also currently enjoying the marvels of a bidet in our New York City apartment. It’s not a separate structure as it was in Paris. It’s attached to our toilet, a wonderful addition from Tushy. I use less toilet paper, reveling in the simplicity of continental hygiene. The focused stream of water cleans up beautifully.
I may now know what a bidet is and how I can use it effectively, but over the years I have learned to admit what I don’t know. I’d rather learn and grow than pretend that I’m more knowledgeable so someone else won’t judge me. We lose ground when we make believe we’re smarter than we are. I compromised my learning curve and the breadth of joy while in Paris because I couldn’t admit what I didn’t know. Thank goodness I know better now.
- Think of something you have wanted to know or learn. Look it up. Or ask a friend about it. It feels nice to understand what we didn’t know before.
- Make time to laugh. Do it purposefully. And laugh with abandon.
- Be open to be inspired. Keep an open mind and go about your day. Whether you anticipate it from a known teacher, or whether it comes in an unexpected moment, being willing to be inspired is the open invitation to wonder and awe.