Thoughts on a Cartoon: The New Yorker’s “I’m Going to France”

Jul 25, 2018

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Perhaps you have seen this cartoon being shared around Instagram lately. A few readers brought it to my attention, and even though it was originally published on November 20, 2006, in The New Yorker, the sentiment of what many have either felt or hope to feel when they travel to France is simply conveyed. But perhaps you, like me, have interpreted their travels to France, or to any destination away from home which has brought them deep satisfaction, in a different way.

As of late, my travels abroad over the past year (here and here) have found me enabled to be my most true self. A self that lets go, is much more present and calm as I trust that yes, things have worked out and will work out, and there is no need to expedite the journey. In other words, relax and just be where you have worked so hard to travel to.

Now initially, one might argue, well, sure you felt more at ease and comfortable being yourself while traveling to France or England (in my case – list your destinations here as well), you didn’t have the responsibilities that are present when you are at home or at work. This is a fair point, but I refuse to accept that we cannot learn something about this exceptional contentment we experience on our travels and transport it home with us in some fashion.

For instance, as I shared today, my brain was more exhausted than I realized due to factors outside of my daily life, and so it was my travels that brought this exhaustion to my attention, and thus, my determination to not let it reach this state again with the help of new routines regarding taking in the news and information differently in any given day.

I must admit, each morning upon arriving in the states, I awake so dreadfully early (and I love waking up early – but 2 or 3 am is too early for me) that my mind is doing somersaults of configurations trying to solve this question – how to welcome home the “Shannon” that I find such peace being when I step away from my daily life of worrying about outcomes, checking my finances, tending to my social schedule – when I can squeeze it in, etc.. The other parts of my daily life in Bend (being with my dogs, living next to nature, playing in the kitchen, reading the many books, newspapers, visiting my favorite local shops, bakeries and markets, and coming up with ideas to share on the blog and podcast) are what I want to revel more in, to celebrate more often. And so, as it is frequently the case, I assess. I take an afternoon or a morning, and I examine what is it that is causing the worry when I am home, and evaporates when I travel?

The key for me is to refrain from dwelling too much on the assessment. Yes, assess, put it on paper, and then take action.

I was listening to episode #16 of Courage & Clarity recently, and the guest shared the key to finding inspiration is to take action. The action need not be something directly tied to what you are trying to find inspiration for, but by simply doing something – perhaps something new, something that distracts the mind, it will allow your mind to pop with ideas that you couldn’t see or know if you were to have sat and waited for them to occur.

So here’s my challenge to you, as well as to myself, if you read this cartoon and thought, in some way, you could relate: (1) quickly assess what changes to lighten the stress, the worry, the aspects of your personality that you don’t feel are either authentic or your best self, happen when you travel to your dream destination; and then (2) take action to keep as many of those changes in tact when you return.

Sometimes it’s the defaults that we have unconsciously accepted that we come to recognize when we travel that we just cannot decipher when we are inside the bubble of life at home (episode #218 of the podcast discussed just this topic), but sometimes it is the realization that we worry about outcomes that we have no control over which ratchet up our stress levels (read this post about 20 ways to banish worry and this post about 10 things to stop worrying about). For instance, we cannot predict the future, we cannot know when the dream job offer will be made, when the economy will shift or whether the new employee will be easy to work with. The only things we can control are our response and our preparedness. And with preparedness is clarity of the direction we wish to travel.

I was speaking with a dear friend today at the end of my walk (you can join me virtually on my walk with the boys this morning on IG Stories here), and the truth that was discovered was that when I wake up early as I mentioned above, the trouble is not “what do I need to do”, the worry is “when will it unfold as I have hoped”. And in the case of the later, the life lesson to apply is patience.

Many of you who are reading this post today have clarity when it comes to what you desire regarding the construction of your life, what you value, what your priorities are (if you aren’t sure, check this post out), and when we have clarity, the decisions of what to do and what not to do come quickly. The only other skill we need is patience to let the journey unfold as it will. Because we cannot control the other actors in our story as they are in their own story as well.

The gift of travel, and there are many, but in this instance that we are talking about today, is that we see ourselves differently. We see that we can change, that we can be more at peace, we can be our most authentic or best selves. So whether you see yourself as being a different person or being who you know yourself to truly be, know that you can be that person when you return home as well, and be thankful that your trip has given you in many ways a ‘manual’ to follow to make it possible.


~View more of TSLL’s Travel posts

~View more of TSLL’s French-Inspired posts


Image: The New Yorker

12 thoughts on “Thoughts on a Cartoon: The New Yorker’s “I’m Going to France”

  1. I love today’s post. I love treating the area where I live as though I am a traveler. It is a great idea to keep going. As someone who is pretty new to your blog, I find it is one of my go-to reads.

  2. “The world is your oyster” is my mantra . . . and I find I come into my own when I am in what I consider the world’s special places. I instantly become in another world – with memories the ‘forever’ ones to look back on at any times when an uplift is needed. For me, it is not France. . . but we all have our own things that stir our lives, our spirits.

    As a person from the big city in the States — and one who has travelled — well-0– a lot of places, I find the easy way to renew, revitalize, is to go to Carmel (CA) and Big Sur. There is that definable “something” that occurs there — in that gorgeous but so relaxed scenery and so many choice of things to do — that gives me peace. And ESCAPE!

    So thank you for reminding others that pulling our mind – our thoughts – our lives – our love lives – together does not have to take going to far-far-away-places for it is just around the corner. It has been the “carrot” that makes the ups and downs in life more than tolerable — for we know we can ESCAPE!

  3. “ The trouble is not what do I need to do, the worry is when will it unfold as I have hoped”.
    Thank you for a profound new way of looking at life’s stresses and anxiety!

  4. Shannon , your body clock needs more time to adjust …………..very possibly you are still in ‘ French Time ‘ , jet lag doesn’t automatically disappear after a few days, when you have been in a different time zone for some weeks.
    Waking early in itself doesn’t need to be a worry ……….just acknowledge it as a temporary thing which is helping your body to gently and gradually adjust back to USA time .
    Choose , perhaps, to get up and make yourself a lovely cup of tea, and listen to the sounds around you , or maybe to a relaxing piece of music , perhaps read for a little while , and then snuggle back down in bed for a little longer.
    We don’t have to actually be asleep to be able to rest awhile .
    If you find you are still not sleepy , rather than worry about it, begin to remember one of the lovely moments from your walks with the boys, perhaps, or a day from your holiday , imagine and picture it as fully as you can , and enjoy re – living it moment by moment. You might find that you drift off for a little while.
    If you need to get up a little earlier than usual for a while , then do just that , but just acknowledge that this is only a temporary thing,and trust that your body will adjust itself gradually .
    Take time for you.

    1. Thank you Anne, very, very much. It’s been a long time since I stayed so long in France, and have never known how long it takes to return to my rhythm. Your words and suggestions will help, if that I have no doubt. With much appreciation. 🙂

  5. Anne is very astute. Jet lag can be a demon. Give yourself time to readjust. it can take a lot longer than you think it will, and the sleep deprivation can easily be confused with anxiety/depression/stress. I have been through so many times and eventually learned 🙂

  6. Hi Shannon! Welcome back. So glad you had such a beautiful trip.
    Try Organic India Tulsi tea before bed. Wonderful for the adrenals and peaceful rest. It might help with the transition.

  7. What a wonderful trip, full of activities and learnings. That cartoon has been under the glass of my desktop since it was printed in the magazine. A fine reminder to reflect on my actions, thoughts and activities. I also listen only to the
    Classical music station and have found it so restful. Welcome home!

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