Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter

Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter by Harold Stearley

The title to his post, like most, should immediately tell you what I will be writing about. Or at least give you a clue. And I must admit that sometimes my writing veers way off course and can be meandering through multiple topics that my weird brain somehow links together. 

Hang on for the ride. 😊

But in this case, one must look up the French translation of that title, unless, of course, you are fluent in French, to get an inkling of where I’m roaming today.

Simply stated, the phrase means that one will withdrawal, or draw back, in order to make a better jump or advance.   A strategic retreat.  Perhaps to better attack.  “Attack what?  Well, anything one would imagine, from an occupational challenge to travel to a distant land.  Or maybe even “jumping” into outer space.  Oooh, how about jumping into “inner space.”

 Now there’s a place that needs exploring.

Well, back to the title.  If you break the phrase down into its two basic components you get:

Reculer Pour = “move back to,” and Mieux Sauter = “better to jump.”

But depending on context, or the addition of a few more words, or just plain bastardization which is what seems to happen over time with any language, the expression can take on many forms with similar, yet changing, definitions.

The expression has been used to mean:

“You’re just kicking the can down the road” (procrastinating for a later decision).

“All good things are worth waiting for” (are they really – eat your dessert first).

“You’re just prolonging the inevitable” (come on, can’t one alter the “inevitable).

“One step back for two steps forward” (the opposite of the more common, pessimistic statement).

And Yes, I did add the parentheticals. Then there is my own spin on the phrase that: We’re stepping back so we can make a better mistake. 😊

Now, I came across this expression in a book I am reading.  “Stumbled upon” is my favorite expression for such things.  And I’m doing my usual of reading multiple books at the same time. 

I think five right now

So, I’m afraid I can’t even tell you which book I found it in.  My memory just isn’t what it used to be, and I’m definitely at that stage of life where I can say, with the utmost confidence, that I’ve forgotten more than I currently know. 

So as my mind was “leap-frogging” this morning (an appropriate expression for a number of reasons related to the title – see the “rabbit-hole” below), I stumbled upon a Medscape quiz about memory.  One might think this would be a test of one’s memory, but no, it was a quiz regarding how different types of memory are affected as we age.  And to my astonishment, I discovered there were at least six different types of memory:

  • Semantic memory (facts and general knowledge about the world);
  • Procedural memory (acquisition and later performance of cognitive and motor skills);
  • Working memory (holding and manipulating information in the mind);
  • Episodic memory (recalling personal events and experiences);
  • Prospective memory (the ability to remember to perform an action in the future); and,
  • Recalling new text information (remembering new text information and making inferences about it drawing upon prior knowledge).

I’m doing the last type of memory in this post and, fortunately, I don’t recall the authors of the memory quiz mentioning remembering the source of the new information. I do recall, however, reading from a different book before, that one tends to remember things much better if there is an emotional attachment to the information. 

Where the words fly off the page and smack us in the old brain-box

Emotions can be of many different forms.  For instance, one of the books I recently began reading smacked me with an insulting, and frankly downright stupid, statement in the very beginning of the book.  The book, “Undaunted Courage,” is the well-known, New York Times Bestseller, about the journey of Lewis and Clark. 

The statement was in the introduction to the book, written by the author, explaining his admiration and obsessive fascination with Lewis and Clark.  He was talking about how his family decided where they would venture for the 200th anniversary of this “country.” 

Of course, this “country” has been around a lot longer than 200 years, so he is referring to the date assigned to the liberation of the Caucasian European Settlers from England and the so-called “birth” of “America” as a “free land.”  The author suggested to his family that they celebrate this date at Lemhi Pass,

“. . . where Meriwether Lewis was the first American to cross the Continental Divide.”

What I find to be so offensive is that this statement appears to be divorced from any cognizance of the fact that before the white guys got here, there were somewhere between 500 and 600 tribal nations inhabiting this continent, each having developed their own extensive and to be respected customs and traditions.  We are talking about somewhere between seven to ten million people.  And I’m pretty sure a few of them crossed the Continent Divide in multiple places in the good old USA.

This emotion of mine, being outrage, will not prevent me from reading the book, and from what I understand there will be some notations about how a 16-year-old Native American woman, named Sacajawea, saved their sorry asses on multiple occasions.

Now see, how my flight of ideas has circled back to the beginning of this rainy Mother’s Day where I reside.  What I set out to write about was a momentary stopping, or stepping back, for a big jump I’m about to make.

In several ways

And instead, I end up talking about Sacajawea, the true hero of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  And I bet there were plenty of times where that expedition paused and stepped back before jumping forward.

So why did I start writing this post? 

Well, if you look at my last post, it’s date is March 26th of this year.  Two posts down it jumps all the back (remember the title of this piece) to January, 15th of this year.  I really had a lot more posts in this time period than the dates would lead you to believe. In fact, I took down some 37 posts of mine after one of those posts was pilfered. The post, however, was of much more value to me than the word “pilfered” might imply.  And so were the other posts I took down.  They all have a special meaning to me as they were relating stories of my lifetime.  

And I intend to present them in a bit different way in the future

So, I’ve decided to step back for a little while to make a better jump forward.  A better mistake. 😊 This comes at a time when I’m about to embark upon an entirely new stage of existence.  I won’t be traveling much, if at all, this year. And it’s not that COVID has delayed me, but rather, I am attempting to build a home.  A stable environment and jumping off point for all of my remaining adventures.

Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter

I’ll keep you posted.

In Metta

And Happy Mother’s Day !

Photo: A Green Tree Frog. And after-all, we are talking about jumping or making jumps in one’s life. And this little guy sat there quite patiently as I snapped this photo. It held back, while I’m sure it had many jumps forward ahead.

Rabbit Hole: The French and the Frog. I began and ended my post with a French phrase and about midway I used the word “leap-frog” to describe my flight of ideas. And, naturally, that brought to my mind how the French are, on occasion, referred to as “Frogs” or called “Froggies.” 

There are a bunch of stories floating about in the web about how this reference came to be, including the eating of frog legs and the way the French speak.  I like the one about how the British, who often warred with France, didn’t understand the that the Fleur-de-lys on the French Flag symbolized a flower.  The Brits interpreted it to be a Golden Frog.  And so the word “frog” was used as a derogatory term for the French.

If you want to read some more stories about the origination of this, check out Archived French Frog Stories.

References:

If you wish to check out the Medscape Memory “Quiz,” you can find it at: Fast Five Quiz: Memory Loss and Cognitive Impairment.

And here is a passage in Wikipedia describing Lemhi Pass:

“Lemhi Pass is a high mountain pass in the Beaverhead Mountains, part of the Bitterroot Range in the Rocky Mountains and within Salmon-Challis National Forest. The pass lies on the Montana-Idaho border on the Continental Divide, at an elevation of 7,373 feet (2,247 m) above sea level. It is accessed via Lemhi Pass Road in Montana, and the Lewis and Clark Highway in Idaho, both dirt roads. Warm Springs Road, which roughly follows the divide in Montana, passes just west of the pass’s high point.”

19 thoughts on “Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter”

  1. Great post Stearley, sorry to hear you were pilfered! Our stories are such a labor of love so it’s disturbing to have them replicated elsewhere for someone who clearly doesn’t appreciate or respect the work! C

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful read. I do think many of those old sayings are built around negatives, or nonsense (an apple a day keeps ….) it’s like they couldn’t see a positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So nice to read your post. Your comment about “Native Americans” caught my interest. I have friends who are Lakota Sioux and they call themselves “First Nations” which I find very logical. Interesting that you are building a space now. You have for so long been going “walkabout.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks ! They are the First Nations people, for sure. And should be respected more. And that’s wonderful you have friends that are Sioux. I bet they have many stories to tell.
      Yeah, at some point I will not only need a place for in-between rest from travel, but will need a final home. I’m trying to avoid toxins though. Tricky with the chemicals

      Liked by 1 person

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