Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 27 - Tomatoes, Language Slip ups, and Visiting the Beaches of Normandy

Salutations everybody! I hope that everybody had a good week. And that you make this next one better. Life in France is perfect save the small fact that none of you are here with me!

The whole of my life, I have not liked tomatoes. Not at all. Not cooked. Not stewed. Not in a house. Not with a mouse. These textural abominations lack flavor, visual appeal, and all value. It was a great point of contention for me in my youth. I lost friends, family members, and limbs in this conflict of red fruit/vegetables. I just thought they were pretty gross. So lo and behold: the French people tend to eat a lot of tomatoes. When in Rome do as the Romans do. And so with the utmost humility I admit that a 20 year dislike of something, nay an epic saga of twenty years detailing the conflicts of a young man against his enemy, came to an end. I find tomatoes enjoyable now. And I think this illustrates an important principle. Anyone can change. Just take a moment to reflect on this principle, this mind-blowing idea. What hope! What message it conveys. Nothing about our character is permanent. Our habits, feelings, patterns of thought, likes, dislikes, are fluid. The coolest of the three states of matter! And yes you biologist mentioning how the sense of taste develops over a long time are right, as are any of you thinking 'you hadn't eaten a tomato for so long a period you isn't even remember what they tasted like", but silence those thoughts for a moment and let me make a weak comparison. 20 years of feelings gone in an instant. Just like that! It is rarely that easy. The fluidity of each one of us permits every set of circumstances, no matter how sucky, trying, tragic, to become a livable breathable environment. So take a good long look at what you don't like about your circumstances. If you can change the world around you, go ahead and do it. Then I counsel you, with all the wisdom of a twenty year old lost(and loving it) in a foreign country, to change the world inside you instead. Sometimes it is even harder than changing the outside. Then waiting for the storm to end. Waiting for a new companion. Waiting for the next year. Waiting for the next day. And at the precipice of decision even waiting another second seems so much easier. You can change. Picking up that squishy fleshy tomato with a fork was harder than it had any right to be. But if I can eat a tomato, you can stop smoking or whatever other change you want to make. Though one of those is a bit harder than the other.

I accidentally dropped an unfortunate profanity bomb in French yesterday! I was talking about Vladimir Putin, and so like most proper nouns I figured you just pronounce it with a French accent. As it happens that is quite a vulgar swear in French. Turns out the French have added an extra e to the end of Putin's name: Putine, so that you don't have to swear to discuss Russian politics. Also the expression for swearing is "gross mots" which literally translates over to "fat words". And there is your important French grammar lesson for the day.

We went with a man named Nicholas and three other missionaries to go see the WW2 beaches, American cemetery, and some artillery batteries left over from German occupation. Nicholas is kind of like the French equivalent of Napolean Dynamite. He is one of the least French French people I know and you always know what he is thinking and feeling because he has already bluntly said it. A 35-40 minute drive on winding, narrow (excessively so) French countryside roads... And then I was technically back on American soil. You could almost smell the change in liberty and optimism for youth stepping into that huge graveyard. Which was quite something. This massive, world shaping event that has always seemed so far away, historically and geographically, was right there around me. A short drive through wooded farmland with the trees doing that connecting arch thing above I found myself wandering through German bunkers and artillery batteries. There is no guide, nor rules, nor anything really. Just bunkers and the flashlights we had brought, and a few other tourists. Then we walked to the beach nearby. I love beaches in general but this one was just pretty dang magical. We all took off running with yellow cliffs to the right and the ocean to the left. I left my footprints where all these soldiers had left theirs not too long ago. We found a ball abandoned there and passed a beautiful oh so precious hour doing some of the most satisfying and important nothing I've done: we just explored, threw rocks into the water, raced. I remembered how to be child during that little bit. Such a marvelous experience.

My rough plan is to describe the people who we interact with a little better in the future. Perhaps a paragraph each week describing someone else. Though given my consistency, I'll probably end up not writing again for three weeks...just kidding.

So that is all for this week my friends!

Until next time!

Elder Alex Hacker

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