Chapter 5 (of 20) People of the Seine
Chapter 1 (of 20), A Good Café on the Place St-Michael, will take you back in time to the story that began my French culinary experiences while reading A Moveable Feast, chapter by chapter. From there, each chapter will take you to the next chapter and culinary experience.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway.
Chapter 5 (of 20) People of the Seine, accompanied by Boeuf Bourguignon, paired with Le Bouquet Rouge De Georges Duboeuf at La Petite Auberge, Islington.
Notes From Chapter 5: People of the Seine
A WorkLife Book Club For One
Notes about Observation
I would walk along the quais when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out. It was easier to think when I was walking and doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.
I knew several of the men who fished the fruitful parts of the Seine between the Ile St-Louis and the Place de Verte Galente and sometimes, if the day was bright, I would buy a litre of wine and a piece of bread and some sausage and sit in the sun and read one of the books I had bought and watch the fishing.
Travel writers wrote about the men fishing in the Seine as though they were crazy and never caught anything, but it was serious and productive fishing. Most of the fishermen were men who had small pensions, which they did not know then would become worthless with inflation, or keen fishermen who fished on their or half-days days off from work.
It always made me happy that there were men fishing in the city itself, having sound, serious fishing and taking a few fritures home to their families.
I write a lot about the power of observation. So much so that it warranted a chapter of its own: The Power of Observation in Part II: Your Superpowers in my book, Your WorkLife Your Way. Then because I believe so much in the power of observation, I developed the chapter into the e-book How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation which is part of The School of WorkLife Book Series.
Like Hemingway, I walk when I’m trying to think something out.
Yesterday when I sat down to write this chapter, having read it first over a plate and a glass at La Petite Auberge, I re-read it again. But I didn’t know where I was going to go with it.
I’ve written a lot about the power of book wisdom – how we can take the wisdom found in books and apply it to our WorkLife learning needs to navigate through our struggles and successes.
I first wrote a blog which I called WorkLife Book Wisdom, which led me to write a book called WorkLife Book Club, that in turn led me to write a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies – In the book and the series, the stories are presented as case studies for group discussion. The case and the recommended book are the required reading for each book club meeting and help to frame the subsequent discussion.
All of these resources were created in the context of people taking the lessons they need from reading a full book. The difference with Taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on A Moveable Feast. Chapter by Chapter was two-fold.
- I wanted to explore if learning can be taken from every individual chapter of a book as opposed to learning being taken from a book as a whole.
- I wanted to explore if learning can be taken from A WorkLife Book Club For One. My original blog was based on this, but my book and subsequent learn through reading series focused on a deeper level of learning through book club discussions.
I pondered this on my morning walk, and then when I got home, I read the chapter once again. And suddenly I knew where I wanted to go with it.
That was to connect my belief in the power of observation (as a superpower) to Hemingway’s same belief, as a way to figure things out for ourselves, simply by walking and doing something – thinking and observing our thoughts.
And also by observing others, seeing people doing something that they understand.
That’s how Hemingway differed from the travel writers who wrote disparagingly about the men fishing in the Seine. Unlike Hemingway, they didn’t see or understand the true meaning of the men’s work. The importance of the work and the impact it had on their WorkLives.
I can relate to Hemingway observing the men at work and, from that, understanding the bigger picture of what it truly means. I can relate to it because I always take time to understand the bigger picture of people’s WorkLives. That’s important to me in helping the people I work with to navigate their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride by living true to their values, beliefs and motivated abilities.
On re-reading the last sentence, I questioned if it’s too cliché. I’m not sure if it is or if it sounds like that to me because it’s something I’ve been saying for a very, very long time. And if that’s the case, then it’s my cliché, and I need to own it. Then I thought a better question is: Is it true? The answer is a resounding YES. I can say that with absolute and total conviction because of the stories I share on my blog and in my books of people’s powerful WorkLife achievements. Those stories are a testament to the truth of that sentence.
I can also relate to Hemingway’s description of the travel writers. Because so often, I hear people criticise and judge other people without taking time to observe and understand their WorkLife fully. That’s a real bug bear of mine – I have a few!
Notes about The Spring
With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only true sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and the branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.
In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.’
My walking and thinking also helped me write the following notes about spring.
Because I was able to make sense of the chapter on re-reading it and its relevance to my WorkLife.
It just happens to be autumn as I walk and think, then read, write and ponder more deeply about spring seeming so far away.
At the moment, I’m facing challenges in my WorkLife. Things I need to happen are not falling into place because of metaphorical unforeseen heavy rains. I want and need to sell a property to move from London to begin a new WorkLife chapter in a new country. But crashing markets – or metaphorical crashing rains, are preventing that from happening. This is causing me to question if the spring of my new WorkLife chapter will come. It’s frightening because while it hasn’t failed (as such), it’s outside of my control.
Right now, I feel, as Hemingway wrote, that spring will never come and that I’m losing a season out of my life.
I’ve been through times before when I thought spring would never come, and yet it did.
Words of Wisdom
As Hemingway wrote, I need to remember that spring always came in the past, and it will come again in the future, and I just need to hang in there.
And so, on reflection from walking and thinking, reading, writing and pondering, I believe that learning can be taken from every individual chapter of a book. I also believe that learning can be taken from a WorkLife book club for one.
That pleases me a lot because I love learning through reading and thinking and writing in my own space and my own time.
I’m not sure when I’ll read the next chapter of A Moveable Feast over a glass and a plate.
It most likely will be another spontaneous happening. It may take a little planning to keep the French theme going, or, as with today, it may not.
The Continuing Story …
… I can now share where Chapter 6 (of 20) … The False Spring took me …
Today’s plat principal, Boeuf Bourguignon, paired with a glass of Le Bouquet Rouge De Georges Duboeuf, was enjoyed at La Petite Auberge, Upper Street, Islington. Upper Street is the central thoroughfare of Islington, home to great restaurants and bars.
Se souvenir de toi, Norma.
#FunFact1 Boeuf Bourguignon, a French beef stew braised in red wine, often touted as traditional, in reality, does not appear to be very old, nor did it enjoy a great reputation, and furthermore, it is likely not a regional recipe from Burgundy. The dish became a standard of French cuisine, notably in Parisian bistros, and only became considered as a Burgundian speciality in the twentieth century. Julia Child has described the dish as “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.” – I concur. (Source Wikipedia).
#FunFact2. Upper Street was one of the settings for local resident Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. The London-based sections of the later books are set in and around Upper Street, the home address of “Fenchurch”. In addition, the character of Hotblack Desiato is named after a local estate agent. (Source Wikipedia).
School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time.
What is Self Directed Learning?
Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint.
Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning
You may want to self-direct your learning by starting your WorkLife Book Club For One, For Two, or for more people. Guidelines for Starting and Running Your WorkLife Book Club will help you do that.
You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.
How To Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness
How To Recover From Rejection and Build Strong Resilience
How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively
You can view the complete collection here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning. These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies. which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.
That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.