Last week I received an email from my friend Sarah, an accomplished writer, which made me feel good. The email was an account of her new life as an expat in France, accompanied by citations such as : Pictures with happy children, nice landscapes with Chateaux as background, skiing in the French Alps, gatherings with friends and drinking french wine in huge crystal glasses. “What a life!” I thought feeling at the same time happy and envious of her quintessentially french bon vivant.
And because our life is in a constant comparison to the others, in order to make sense, I started thinking about my current status : Living beyond the borders of Europe in a brand new city , being surrounded by a totally different tribe of people and trying to learn a language which is remotely related to my mother tongue. Still, the history of this place is partially familiar. A country which has inherited all the pros and cons of the Soviet Union sovereignty and for sure with no trace of aristocracy in the background to establish some standards of good life. On the other hand, it has the advantages of a blank slate. Someone can use all his/her Western knowledge, education and creativity in order to build something new and start learning a new language with a strong literature and cultural background. And at this point, there is a real excitement and extra bonus of being in this place which counterbalance the easiness of the European life.
My friend Sarah interpreted my latter argument with the word “Chutzpah” by writing to me, among other things :”I don’t have the Chutzpah of you to go for it…!” It was the first time I came across this word. The dictionaries define it as : the quality of audacity, the nerves that somebody has to carry on.. or simply the courage.
Perhaps, during hard times it would be quite useful for someone to start cultivating this characteristic if it isn’t innate!