Rejoindre la mèche
Commitment is at the heart of their business. These men and women are inspired by the world to act differently and sustainably, making their environment a channel for expression, creativity, innovation and solidarity. Finance, culture, crafts, industry and the media are just some of the fields embodied by these personalities, who agreed to take part in the Proust questionnaire in La Mèche mode. What are their enduring secrets? As far as you’re concerned, they’re spilling the beans.

Production: Cornland Studio

Mélanie is a novelist, playwright, columnist and journalist. She spent her childhood between Latin America, West Africa and the United States. With a degree in contemporary history from the University of Geneva and a post-graduate diploma (DEA) from the Institute of European Studies, she worked as a journalist and columnist for Radio Suisse Romande. From her nomadic childhood, she has retained a taste for people and trees. She links each of the countries she visits to essences, and claims to be able to recognize them by smell. You might come across her in the forest, eyes closed, nose up against a coniferous tree. 

Transcription

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Mélanie Chappuis, and I’m a writer and journalist. I’m currently writing a historical novel and working as a freelance journalist, notably for French-speaking Swiss radio. 

How did your desire to get involved come about? What triggered it?

It wasn’t a purely ecological trigger, in fact, it was when I was writing one of my novels, La Pythie. And it was the realization that to receive messages from the invisible, from the universe, to be able to feel connected, to feel that things are much bigger than us and that we have to be part of that something you have to be in nature, you have to be in silence. It was this need to reconnect with nature, to connect with the whole at the same time as with myself.  

Tell me about your most beautiful nature memory…

I have a few, but I was in a forest I didn’t know, in the Val de Travers, for a show, and so I went for a walk and let my grief out, away from prying eyes. I remember I was walking through the forest and after a while I was so weepy I couldn’t walk anymore, I rested against a tree and cried for a long time, and all of a sudden I felt the presence – but it was incredible – the presence of the trees around me. It’s not that we communicated, it’s just that all of a sudden we felt that we weren’t the only ones there, and it was just as strong a presence as if there’d been another human or animals. It’s often in trance-like states that we’re able to perceive things more than in our normal state, so I imagine that having cried so much I was in a kind of alpha state that allowed me to perceive that, but it was quite magical. 

If you had to be a tree, which one would you be and why?

A yew! I have a kind of morbid passion for yews, but they’re actually trees where everything is deadly. They made very good weapons at the time precisely because the wood is soft and hard, and at the same time the arrows were poisonous. But whether you eat the bark or the arils, I think they’re called red berries. Finally, everything about yew trees is hyper-dangerous. Just falling asleep under a yew tree can put you into a trance, so you have to be careful. And on the positive side, some people used to commit suicide on yew back in the day, because you’re actually dying of laughter. There’s a substance, I promise you, there’s a substance that allows you to leave laughing immensely. And they found traces of collective suicides at the time when people were blocked by armies. It was also a sacred tree for the Celts, a very old tree that has been used a lot and about which we don’t know everything and fortunately, well  I don’t want to encourage people but let’s just say that yews interest me.

What three things do you think are essential for changing the world?

Education and then notions such as courage, benevolence, listening, paying attention to things and to others.

Thank you!

Thank you!


We’d love to hear your inspiring stories! If you’d like to try your hand at the Proust questionnaire, or share your experience, commitment, tips or gripes, go to the “Share with us” discussion forum on the La Mèche platform, here:

Questionnaire de Proust

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