I capture an image with my camera in 1/100th of a second. All that has gone on before and all that will happen after has to fit in that tiny slice of frozen time. The instants I have recorded on film in 11,000 negatives over 20 some odd years add up to just under 2 minutes. Not much time at all. You have to be present or these fleeting moments will go by unnoticed.
Paris is like that, she winks at you, flashes a smile, and then turns away. You either get it or you don't. Sometimes I get lucky.
Walking on île St Louis on a gray cold morning, approaching Quai de Bourbon from rue le Regrattier, I heard a woman call out. I had a feeling Paris was about to reveal to me one of those definitive moments. I raised my camera to capture this school girl running on the cobblestones. It was not a unique moment. Perhaps this girl could have just run past Rodin on his way from a visit with Camille Claudel at her studio up the street. Not much would be different. Maybe had I been just a bit earlier I could have seen Emile Zola sitting on the wall of the Quai thinking about the opening lines of a new novel, or perhaps I might have seen Baudelaire making his way home.
Lately I have taken to walking in Paris without my camera. It helps me to stay present, absorbed in what is going on around me. It gives me confidence that Paris will to continue to flirt with me and show me something I should see. Tomorrow is soon enough to capture one of these moments - some days I just live them.