“I think I am a good liver,” a French friend recently confided.
“You mean you have a good liver?” I suggested.
“No, I am a good liver. Un bon vivant.”
Well, that is true. He lives well, enjoys the finer things, and seems to truly enjoy whatever he does. And his English is good enough that I knew he didn’t need me to tell him that we don’t say ‘liver’ in that way. He had made his point.
It made me think. I often worry about my liver: I enjoy wine and beer too much for my own good. So I’ll cut back for a few days. Feel healthy, and go back to my old ways.
But do I worry enough about being a ‘good liver’? About enjoying life in every sense, living not just for tomorrow but today? Not even today but now?
I must admit that we have so many ways to enjoy that present moment in France. Not just around the table, or during the traditional ‘apéro’: there is a culture in this country of stopping to smell the roses, or at least enjoy ‘un petit noir’ at a café table, of savouring each change of season. We take holidays. Turn off our phones and other media (although not as often as we should).
But still. I know I focus way too much on my to-do list. Getting things done. Getting stuff. Not making enough new memories. Going off the path to try something different. Living in l’instant présent.
Come to think of it, my friend’s translation is probably closer to the expression: ‘bon viveur‘. As in so many other examples in our two languages, English borrowed from the French to create an expression and give it a whole meaning of its own: not just one who enjoys life, but one who overindulges in its finer things.
Perhaps one really does need a good liver to be a ‘bon vivant’. It certainly helps if you live in France. I suppose that’s why liver detox diets and tips to re-energize this vital organ abound on the French web: drinking rosemary tea, lemon juice and coffee; eating foods rich in antioxidants; avoiding chocolate, cheese and alcohol long enough to allow the liver to regenerate.
Et toi? Are you a good liver?