I posted here each day of the Camino, as it was such a definite journey that seemed to warrant daily check ins. Now that I have moved on to Paris, my check ins will be less frequent.
I have decided to spend a month in Paris to live differently. To “try on” a new way of living to see what fits and what needs adjustments. Every Parisian woman knows to go to a tailor for their clothes so that they fit perfectly. So too with our lives, I feel. We need to tailor them, and adjust as necessary. That requires taking the time and the effort to do so. Many of us don’t spend the energy to size our lives up. We don’t feel we can afford it, or that it will make much of a difference. But in the end, if we don’t take the time and effort, we might end up feeling uncomfortable in our skin, not confident to walk out the door with purpose and energy, tugging at the usual irritations without stopping to fix what needs our attention.
I have spent my days so far wandering. I move through the streets of Paris without any agenda. I just walk and notice and observe. I enjoy and savor and relish in the beauty of a city that I fell in love with over 25 years ago. It still speaks to me of elegance in small details, of living fully, of distilling only the best, and leaving the rest behind. Of eating bread, but only the freshly baked, from your favorite boulangerie. Of drinking wine, but only something special. Of having coffee, but only a small glass of espresso that hits you with its energy with just a few small sips. Of going on errands, but on foot, not in a car, so that you see and feel and experience your surroundings more fully. Of window shopping, in small local shops with the owner’s personality and vision on display, and not big box retailers with a corporate vision. Cheese from the fromagerie, meat from the charcuterie, flowers from the florist, candles from a candle shop. Taking the time to discover what delights and enriches me.
On Sunday, Paris outlawed cars in the city for the day to help ease pollution. I walked down the middle of the Champs-Elysees with impunity. How fun! Taxis and buses still were on the street, but their buses are hybrid and much quieter than those back home. Why don’t we have hybrid buses???
I came across the quote from Mark Twain in a Parisian window and agree with what he says about travel. It says “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
I passed Winston Churchill’s statue on my way home last night. It is titled “We Shall Never Surrender”. This was a man who never did. Who created a bonus life for himself when his country and the world needed a voice to stand up to Hitler. Who seemed to have completed his adult career at the age of 55 when his conservative party lost the election in 1929 and Churchill was out of favor with his party, spending much of the 1930s in the countryside at his home Chartwell. These years were called his “wilderness years” and he spent that time writing and staying active. But he also reconsidered many of his positions, and made changes to his views, which allowed him to be ready when the opportunities presented themselves late in the 1930s. What would the world look like if Churchill retired at the age of 65 in 1939?
What would the world look like if we don’t take time to consider what is possible for our bonus years?