the translation of milieu from french is something like “neighborhood”. it seems to have the feel of the word “environs” as well, sort of–whereabouts if you will. i have been giving a lot of thought to the idea of milieu in english of late. applying my own take on the definition, my interpretation for purposes of this blog, is the figurative water in which we swim. this applies not only in general application such as the people who we hang out with–family and friends and the things we like to do, but in tiny nuanced ways as well–these nuances arise all the time and in the most inane or innocuous ways. standing in line at an eating establishment to turn in your dishes and overhearing the kitchen staff talking about the coolest book they’ve been reading on only eating locally grown food, later hearing that same staffmember singing to themself a little creedence cleerwater and realizing i could really hang with this person whom i’ve never met; sitting at coffee on a sunday morning next to a stranger, a man, who for all intents and purposes could pass for a nineteenth century train engineer with hat and watch fob intact, then learning that he handcrafts classic furniture from that time with period tools–how cool is that?
so i’ve been looking at “the water in which i swim” of late and questioning some of my own preconceived notions about my own milieu. exactly how big is this pond i’m swimming in? is it fresh or saltwater, maybe iced tea? are we all just a bunch of salmon swimming upstream to our deaths or is there the occasional exotic interloper who refuses such a call of nature and is frequently satisfied with sunning on the beach? just how often does the water get changed?
it feels to me like my ego does this whole song and dance number to come up with the milieu that feels and looks o.k. to me, with experiences that are welcome and sometimes challenging, but generally within the typical realm of expectations. so what if i begin to shift my expectations radically? what if i realize that my ego has been in control far too long and i no longer care to swim only in safe waters? what if safe/unsafe waters is a bogus notion created by my ego to keep life manageable? and what if the whole notion of a manageable life is exactly what we make of it, not what our parents or compadres have taught us, but just exactly what we as individuals are willing to see in our own environs?
i’m not exactly sure how this applies for me on a day to day basis, what it feels like is that i have been doing this little glide along the lazy river thinking that the banks were way to high to get over and the water moving much too fast, when in another reality i can sprout legs at any minute, jump off my tube and onto the shore–“amphlibious”(ahhh-superpowers at last, walking on land and breathing underwater). the implications are vast and unsettling–my ego is on the run, computing and contriving to pull the plug on this line of inquiry. i get a little happy thinking about the expanding milieu that suddenly opens its way to my line of vision, there is a certain excitement in opening to new possibilities, recognizing new ways of being, opening parts of me that haven’t been visited in a long time and finding a milieu for all of it. suddenly the idea of aperfect stranger humming “bad moon rising” is enough to make you want to howl at the moon or at least join the in the humming!