It turns out that I am in Paris often in the magical month of December (or do I plan it that way?). Paris is a rich environment and my list of favorite places to visit at night in Paris in December is quite long. Most years I don't have time to visit them all. I have worn deep channels leading to those favorite places. So deep that they are no longer possible to see out of without standing tip toe. Paris, like a good friend, is always teaching me lessons about life. “Look my friend” she says to me “I am more than these places you keep going back to. I have so much more to show you if you will only take the time.” I guess she ran out of patience with me on this night and like a good lover just took charge of the situation. I was on my way home from a meeting at La Défense when the bus driven stopped at Porte Maillot announcing service écorté (abbreviated route) fin de ligne (end of line) leaving me in an area of Paris I do not know very well. One of the wonders of Paris is her abundance of cafés. I sat down in one on Avenue de la Grande Armée and had a beer while I watched the traffic not moving. I began to feel lucky having been kicked off the bus. On a slow stroll along this Grande Avenue I added to my familiarity with Paris. Here is where you come to buy a new car, a motorcycle, a scooter, or mountain climbing gear on your way to Champs Elysées. Here is the back side of the Arc de Triomphe, up until tonight it was the back side of the moon to me.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Sometimes you just have to stop and ask: Is what you are doing helping you to get closer and closer to who you are? Are you getting closer and closer to what is in your heart? Even in a city like Paris you could find yourself on auto pilot. Have you sensed by now that Paris is a metaphor for life? It is for me in any case. I am here a lot, almost 10% of the year and it takes an effort to not go on automatic pilot. Imagine walking home at night past Notre Dame and not even noticing! Imagine being so intent on capturing an image that you don't see the life going on all around you. If this can happen to me in Paris then think of how much it happens in Baltimore or New York or Chicago or wherever you live. So, for the hundredth time I am walking in the rain (so Paris right?) taking pictures on rue Mouffetard and around Place de la Contrescarpe when suddenly I see that I am not seeing, anything. It stops me and I begin to look for and see things I haven't noticed before and to take chances with the life around me. I see two men talking in front of a café. I know one of them owns the café in this image. I walk into the conversation and learn things about the history and life of this place I smugly thought I knew so well. It began to rain and I went into the café instead of sitting outside. I went as far back as I could and as I was reloading film in my camera I saw out into the Place de la Contrescarpe from a new place. Paris is a world of possibilities.