So for the record, I am now officially giving exact change, correctly ordering vegetarian food, and making it three or (sometimes!) even four sentences deep into conversations. It’s probably not particularly exciting for anyone else, but these are achievements I’m eager to lean over the cake and blow candles out over.
When I was about seven years old, my older brother and sister came up with most ingenious idea to rid themselves of their pestering younger siblings; they made a fake “treasure map” that plotted out the forest behind our house as well as the locations of a number of secret, buried surprises. I’m pretty sure that our subsequent absence was barely noticed (as the nature of discretely disappearing annoyances usually is) until the day, months and millions of holes later, that we actually DID find a buried box, and to my mother’s horror, and our dogs delight, unearthed the bones of a former pet.
The digging stopped that day, but not my fascination with maps. And so I still, perhaps out of habit, ripped one of Paris out of a guidebook and delicately taped it into my journal. But out-out-of-habit, I haven’t taken a single glance at it in my three-day wandering walking tour of Paris. And this is what I have learned; to “stumble upon” the Royal Palace, Bastille, Opera House, Louvre, Notre Dame, Pointe Neuf, Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triumphe, Red Light District and the thousand other bridges, cathedrals, parks, museums, fountains, playgrounds, markets, tunnels, walkways, etc., is to add miles of magic and majesty to the unearthing of a destination. Paris is a gold mine of mind-blowing beauty. One would be challenged to dig anywhere without hitting. And, in three days aimfully wandering, I have yet to find a dead cat. 😉
If Paris and Parisians have the reputation for being arrogant, it’s only because they are rightfully so. They have mastered the recipes for the most aesthetic courses of architecture, food, drink, pleasure and love. Ah love. Today alone I must have seen a thousand thoughtful kisses delicately distributed to the foreheads, fingers, cheeks, noses and, finally (because I think the French know everything is done better in five courses), lips. I love lovers. For this reason I snuck up on a few…
I couldn’t help it! I spent only one day with my camera before I quickly and miserably resigned myself to agreement with the Mayan philosophy that, “taking pictures steals a piece of the soul” and since poor Paris, with all its too-obvious beauty, has had every angle shot more times than Kate Moss, it has resultantly been left flatter than the super model herself. But Paris would never stand for such pity; so I’ll stop. My point being only that the above shot was the single vision I captured with any warmth (still, I added a few lackluster attempts to the new France Photo Album).
I snuck up on a few more lovers at the Picasso museum.
Museums and churches, by the way, are generally not my up my agenda alley, but back when my imagination was bigger than my body, a particular Picasso hung in my bedroom that inspired a wave of reoccurring nightmares. And as is my approach to all fears – even those under the thick dust of years passed – I investigate. What I found in Picasso, was a passionate man with a mission in accord with all great artists, teachers, prophets and musicians; “to recreate the complexity of reality.” The question, as I see it, that we’re all struggling to recreate with either note, curve or word is, “what is it, the single element, the essence, that defines?” For if we can isolate that element, we will find it to be a single letter of the language of the divine. Picasso, by my interpretation (only), put the hologram of objectivity on canvas. He saw the multidimensional, and summarized it in a few, but scattered the pieces as to provide us only clues to the enlightened view. A scavenger hunt of secrets are our scattered perspectives, at best clumsily pieced together, as Picasso, a humbled man, knew.
A more modern glimpse of Paris blew a whistle in my face, when the ground started shaking to the tune of a mid-morning Techno Parade. The partakers had quite obviously started at least a day (or two) earlier in clubs that gathered their crowds while I was busy sleeping off my jet lag…
If you didn’t notice the headbands, Mohawks, legwarmers, colored hair, piercings, hi-tops, legwarmers, mesh gloves, day glow, ribbed leather jackets, rattails, shredded shirts, and plastic jewelry; let me just officially report from the front line that Paris is leading the charge on bringin’ the 80’s back. And I wave a jelly sandal in FULL support of this movement.
Now I kiss Paris’s two cheeks adieu, as my pilgrimage calls.
I will not be carrying a computer, or have regular internet access for the next five weeks, so please be patient with responses to any emails. I will have a journal to which I’ve committed to jotting my every observation and revelation down; these I will share here, at each opportunity afforded. Along with the pictures to match.
Now would be a very good time for me to send out some gratitude and good karma to WorldNomads Travel Insurance, who, thanks to their continued sponsorship of my travels, have so kindly replaced the camera that I had stolen during my last adventures in Guatemala. Pictures and video over the next few months are compliments of a Cannon S2, of which I’ll eventually give a review. She’s shiny, new, full of optimism and has no idea what’s become of the nine digital cameras before her; shhhh…
I leave with a quote from the one book I’ve chosen to bring with me on this pilgrimage;
“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.” Joseph Campbell, Hero With a Thousands Faces
Thanks for embarking on this journey with me.