Sunday, June 12, 2011

In Paris, bigger isn't better

If I had to choose one word for the USA it would be:


Make everything bigger. Get bigger ratings. Get more followers. Get a bigger house, bigger car, more friends, more books, more of this and more of that.

I, myself, have been influenced by this BIGGER mentality. I'm a fan.

Why? Because measuring things is fun. It's glorious when the numbers go up. It's like a game. And when the numbers go down, it's an effective way to measure self-worth. Don't we all like to pat ourselves on the back or beat ourselves up over the numbers? Whether it be our stock choices, number of visitors to our sites, sales of the month or even pants size (which is the one place we generally don't prefer bigger).

But in Paris? Non. Bigger isn't better.

Paris is run by what we in North America, would see as people with "Joe Jobs." Not corporate fancy pantses. Not people who are hoping for bigger, bigger, bigger. It's run by waiters and chefs, by fish mongers and butchers, by fruit guys and flower guys. The whole city is boutiques, cafés, restaurants and shops. Without these guys running the place, this would turn into... the Salton Sea. Ew.

And the people who run these businesses aren't thinking about expansion. It's not even part of the Parisian mindset. Sure, some months show bigger sales than others and some businesses fail. But if you've got a shop here, that's that. And if you work in a shop here, it's not about looking at the horizon for the next big opportunity. You're just looking to keep what you've got. C'est tout.

If you took a bakery in Paris and plopped it in Los Angeles, soon you'd be scheming up ways to sell your cakes online, to create a line of products for the major grocery store chains and to create a reality show based around the bakery. Danny Bonaduce would ask if you wanted coffee with that.

But in Paris, your bakery would be a bakery and that would be just fine for you and for everyone else, too.

As a person who has been seduced by BIGGER, I'm not quite sure how to get my mind around not expanding. But my butcher friend? And all his butcher friends? And all his friends who run Rue Mouffetard, where I am currently staying? These people are in it for the long haul. They could happily keep on keeping on in the same shop, same apartment, same same same.

That would drive me bananas.

So I sit here analyzing my numbers on my stocks (blech), and my google analytics (meh), the number of followers (nice to meet you #74), and consume myself with how to make those numbers BIGGER BIGGER BIGGER.

I'm not saying that bigger is better or the Parisian preference for staying the same is better. Perhaps those on Rue Mouffetard are at the top of their game. This is, after all, the street in Paris where heavy hitters like Julia Child came to buy food. And if you're the veggie guy on the best street in the best city in the world to buy food, you're doing okay. Why go somewhere else? Why aim for anything else.

Plus, here's another thing. This is a sweet life.

If you work on this street, you live on this street. You walk 30 seconds to work. You come home at lunch for a bite to eat and a nap. You get a gazillion holidays. And you have 50 friends you see every day. It's a good life.

Why aim for bigger when the same is so sweet?

So far, I've only found one thing that Parisians love to make bigger: Lemon Meringue pie. 
The best lemon meringue of... my... life.
It took a team effort to polish it off.


  1. This life sounds like a sweet life to me.

  2. I like ur necklace in this pic. Is that new?!

  3. i love meringue pie it is my favourite ..Enjoy

  4. Then there's the whole thing about how living smaller can actually make you live bigger. Maybe the staying the same thing has a similar benefit?

    Hope you're enjoying the hunk...of lemon meringue pie, of course.

  5. Tomorrow I spend the day at the Los Prietos Boys Detention Center in Santa Ynez forest. There are herds of deer. There are young boys locked up for six months or a year. Tomorrow is career day. Somehow your reflection/journey about Rue Mouffetard and bigger, Bigger, BIGGER and the best lemon meringue pie will inspire them to dream... a lil'bigger. Thank you.


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