Décalage horaire has always been one of my favorite French phrases; it means “jet lag,” but it seems to communicate something more. Horaire communicates the time element, but décalage means “gap” or “discrepancy.” A more literal translation might be “time discrepancy.”
This hidden sentiment within the French phrase seems to reveal the fact that there are more than just differences in time zones that change as we travel around the world. The fundamental way that we view time and its passage differ from one place to another.
Although I’ve long ago adjusted to the jet lag I at first suffered from upon returning home – waking up at the obscene hour of 6 a.m. each morning was irritating for this night owl – I still seem to suffer from this “time discrepancy.” I’m back in the U.S., but I am judging the world around me by the French paradigm that I came to understand and appreciate.
I am sure Columbus is a lovely city, but it just doesn’t stack up to my Parisian ideals. Likewise, I am having trouble adjusting to my 40-hour work week. One of the things that I loved about Paris was how secondary work seemed to be to them. Some may call the French lazy, but this indifference to their jobs showed how much they truly valued the important things in life. They worked, but they always found time to spend a leisurely afternoon at a café or stroll through the park. I have yet to master the art of striking that balance.