|The chateau in our village as imagined by Maurice Utrillo.|
Picking up where I left off yesterday. . . Let me first explain, lunch was followed by a long walk, which was followed by tea, which was followed by drinks which was followed by a light dinner. It just turned out to be one of those days which is why I didn’t finish my Sunday post.
As I said, on Saturday we had lunch with friends in the small bistro in our tiny village. As is always the case in France, conversation was interesting, lively and varied. At one point, I mentioned the survey on happiness as related to age conducted by France’s prestigious INSEE, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies.)
The study revealed that those in their 20s were “suitably” or “adequately” happy. However, contentment levels plummeted at around 40 because, the study postulated, the pressures of work, children, extended family obligations and the “end of illusions” were responsible for the dip in happiness.
Everyone at table was stunned by “end of illusions” which instantly triggered a detour in our conversation.
|As I mentioned yesterday, we had lunch in what is now a little bistro on the right corner. Painting by Maurice Utrillo.|
“How is that possible?” one friend mused. “When we have no more illusions, life becomes gray and sad. It’s like the end of hope.”
My-Reason-For-Living-In France said he couldn’t imagine a life void of illusions. “I want to have illusions forever. They mean that we think positively, that we may still possess some childlike belief in the possibility that there is still wonder in the world,” he said.
No one subscribed to many of the definitions of the concept: “deluded belief, error, delusion, figment of the imagination,” etc. They preferred the more mystic definition of “bewitchment” — maybe magic. I find the notion touchingly charming.
The good news in the INSEE study was that at about 55 there is a “spectacular” reversal in attitude and happiness is restored.
Perhaps illusions can be “rehabilitated”. . . It’s a pleasant possibility don’t you think?