One of my favorite French expressions? It's mettre toutes les chances de son côte. (photo: "We are what we are taught," taken when Smokey was a babe).
Mettre toutes les chances de son côte
: to put all chances on one's side, to stack all the odds in your favor
Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the sentence below
Une de mes expressions favoristes en français c'est : "Mettre toutes les chances de son côté"
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...
Ask my dog and he'll tell you - I'm still shaking my fist at that divisive cartoon I saw on Facebook. Which only goes to show how much progress I have to make in the field of peace (don't we all have strides to make in this area?).
This all got me thinking about reality (the subject of that cartoon. One of my first, kept-to-self thoughts toward the one who posted it was: how do YOU know what is real?)....
I barely graduated from high school and when I did get into the university I was on academic probation. A poor student, I was careful to put all chance on my side, choosing subjects I was most familiar with. That's when I noticed Philosophy 101! That ought to be a breeze, I thought, for somebody like me who thinks too much. I ended that semester with a D in philosophy (thinking was my strongpoint, not remembering).
I took away two things from that class. One: Michel de Montaigne (I loved "meeting" this 16th century Frenchman and am disappointed the hero in a book I'm reading doesn't feel the same way). And, two, a reality check. This was the first time anyone ever got me to look at reality or, rather, to question it. I remember sitting far back in an auditorium, hearing my teacher quote Kant (was it Kant? I can't remember...). The professor held out his arm, waving it around. "Can we be sure any of this is real? Are you really here now? Or is this all a dream?"
I have been haunted to this day by that thought. And I am reminded, again and again, to look beyond what my eyes can see. But, before even my professor or Kant (???), I have my Mom to thank for that enlightenment. She first read me this definition of faith:
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Whether we have faith in a higher power or faith in the bridge we are driving over (whose nuts and bolts we cannot see) we are hoping for the same thing: a solid connection!
And that is the point of this essay (we're getting to it). One thing I have learned is not to be too curious about all that is out there. Not all knowledge edifies. And now for the good news: French is a good thing to be curious about! Unlike the news, You can fill your mind with French words and phrases and not come away sick or depressed or angry. Au contraire, the more French you learn the more you can connect with others.
Thank you, Dear Reader, for opening your word-a-day email and staying to read this personal column--even when you don't agree with me or hold the same beliefs. Each of us is unique. The readers here, I see from the comments, respect that. And we all have at least one thing in common, the love of language.
And we also share the love of France!
Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup!