pleasure and paradox in paris

At the Musée d’Orsay, pressing my face close to a Monet painting, practically inhaling the brushstrokes, I felt a mixture of profound gratitude and nostalgia. The pale pinks, lavenders, and yellows were indescribably soothing. I wanted to merge with the work. Escape into it.

I was mesmerized by the art of Paris to a degree that surprised even me. I’d studied Art History many moons ago at university, but standing in front of certain works – I could easily touch them, were it not for the ever-present security – left me deeply affected.

Until that point, I’d felt somewhat ambivalent about my impromptu trip to Paris. Though I had the time off work, cash saved in the bank, and a great deal from Air France, I questioned my decision to travel to the City of Lights. Surely there were more responsible things to do with my money.

In my hotel room that first night, I tossed and turned as the jet lag (and in-flight wine, no doubt) sank in. Habitual thoughts about work, relationships, and family pounded in my head. Paris, I thought. Why am I here? What can I learn from you?

Pleasure. Presence. Enjoy life, she answered. Be in your body, not your head. You already know this…but I can help you. In fact, you need me to. That’s why you’re here.

You think you’ve lost your intuition, she continued, but you haven’t. Don’t focus on my image or the tourists or the incessant honking and police sirens, or the camouflaged men with machine guns standing on the corner. There is an essence of me that is much deeper than all these things. Be with it.

I didn't make it to the top, but I had to get the Eiffel shot!

I didn’t make it to the top, but I had to get the Eiffel shot!

I spent a week exploring various neighbourhoods in the city. I walked along the Champs-Élysées and the Seine. Apart from food (and chocolate presents!), my only purchase was a 4-day Museum Pass, which I’d picked up at Charles de Gaulle airport upon my arrival.

Viewing the paintings of Monet, Degas, Manet, Cassatt, Morisot, Seurat, and Renoir (and so many more), I felt deep nostalgia. Nostalgia for the time in my life when I initially studied these works. Nostalgia for historical periods of great art, music, and beauty. Most of all, nostalgia for an era where artists truly sat with their inspirations. Focused and present, devoting hours, days, even years to the execution of their visions.

What must it be like to have that kind of patience? It is hard to imagine. My attention span is much shorter than it used to be, a deterioration I blame on technology. All around me, people flitted about with iPhones, snapping photos and selfies. I tried to take some pics, but they never did the moment justice. And trying to capture that moment would just take me out of it.

Jardin des Tuileries - I couldn't resist including this

Jardin des Tuileries – I couldn’t resist

I wondered what these artists would think of this modern world. Would they be disturbed, fascinated, inspired? Life cannot be as it was in nineteenth-century Paris, of course. And even then, things probably weren’t as idyllic as the dreamy vistas suggest. Still, I long to sit in front of a landscape or sunset, or at a cafe, for hours, just absorbing my surroundings. Not thinking about work or emails or how I should be doing something.

Paris reminded me of India, in that it’s a paradox. The Divine Feminine presence, which surely exists and spoke to me that first night, was accompanied by a rough, almost aggressive energy throughout the city. It was an interesting, and often unsettling, experience.

But visiting Paris was very, very good for my soul. In recent months I’d been feeling some grief for so many lost years where I didn’t trust myself as my own authority, where I sold myself short. This last decade in particular – I don’t know where it went. Paris reminded me to be gentle with myself and look ahead. Not everything in life has to happen at once, and my process won’t look like anyone else’s. Nothing is lost. There is still time.

The art, the red wine, the Autumn sunshine, the walks along the Seine…that’s who I am. Sitting in front of a canvas and feeling where the colours take me…that’s who I am. Doing my best to heal resentments, forgive, and live in divine love…that’s who I am. Willing to learn, be humbled over and over again, and create grand adventures for myself…that’s who I am.

Thank you, Paris, for reminding me who I am.

 

26 thoughts on “pleasure and paradox in paris

  1. Pingback: pleasure and paradox in paris — alohaleya – Living By The Moonlight

  2. Well expressed. Paris is amazing for living in the moment and feasting on beauty. And in the face of such architecture, art, beauty,and joie de vivre, it seems like nothing I usually worry or care about matters. It’s transcendent. I lived each moment with you in your descriptions of your experience of Paris. Thank you. Blessings.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for reading and sharing the magic of Paris with me. My trip gave me the opportunity to re-prioritize and realize what I want more of in my life. And that definitely involves beauty and art… which is needed more than ever these days… Many blessings to you, Eileen. Aleya

      Like

  3. Really love this. As an Indian who lived in Paris for some years, I totally agree with your comparison and your feelings about Paris. Too many of us these days don’t take the time to just ‘be’. We’re so busy running behind so-called ‘dreams’.

    Like

  4. Loved your meditation upon arrival, Aleya. The way the mind wonders what’s really going on–ha!– when we follow an instinct and do some impractical thing, like make a quick trip to Paris to dwell for a bit in her feminine heart… Sounds wonderful actually. Even short trips and the change in scenery seem as though they open us up to receive new thoughts and inspiration. I would guess the inspiration will unfold as the days pass. And yes, there is plenty of time… 🙂

    Peace
    Michael

    Like

    • Thank you, Michael – it’s wonderful to hear from you. 🙂 Yes the insights and inspirations have continued and I now find myself reading memoirs of expats living in France. Seems I can’t get enough of Paris! Since I’ve been back I can see how easily the creative and contemplative gets lost in day-to-day busyness…and I don’t want to live life that way anymore. I think there are some big choices up ahead, and I will call upon her feminine heart for guidance and keeping me on track. 😉 Thanks again for commenting; I hope you are really well! Aleya

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Aleya,
    You know where in the film Jerry Maguire, the Renee Zellweger character tells the Tom Cruise character, “You had me at hello.”

    Well you had me here:

    At the Musée d’Orsay, pressing my face close to a Monet painting, practically inhaling the brushstrokes, I felt a mixture of profound gratitude and nostalgia. The pale pinks, lavenders, and yellows were indescribably soothing. I wanted to merge with the work. Escape into it.

    I have often has this exact experience, particularly when immersed in art and sometimes out in nature, but only occasionally tried to communicate it to another person. It is very cool to learn that we share this ability to dive into beauty passionately and completely.

    i have dreamed of visiting Paris many times and am happy you treated yourself as you deserve to go with your heart’s desire.

    love, Linda

    Like

    • Hi Linda! Haha, love the Jerry Maguire reference. 🙂 I know how much you adore art – I recall you posting some sublime Impressionist landscapes, among other works, on FB – so I’m very happy this post spoke to you. I do hope that you are able to travel to Paris, Italy, and wherever else your heart desires. ❤ Aleya

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Paris reminded me to be gentle with myself and look ahead. Not everything in life has to happen at once, and my process won’t look like anyone else’s. Nothing is lost. There is still time.” This really resonated with me. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  7. Mahan mentioned in class yesterday: Forgive yourself for choosing fear. Then repeat: I choose love. I have heard this many times before but this time I Heard it.

    Like

  8. This sounds like a beautiful experience Aleya. I felt tingles reading the last paragraph. May we remember the depth and truth of who we are. Kudos on following your heart to Paris and back home within. blessings, Brad

    Like

please share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s