Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Moments of joy.............

When you live inside your head, it's hard to stop the noise.  Your thoughts are full of lists, conversations, worries, love, sadness, what ifs, whys and why nots.  It's hard to live in the moment because you are constantly talking to yourself, about the past, the present or the future.  About what you have to do. What you should have done.  Or not done.  About the people in your life.  About money, time and love.

But sometimes, the noise clears and you get a moment.  A moment of pure joy.  Of pure clarity.  Of pure being.

This post is about those moments.  I find myself having them more and more often. That is the gift that Paris gives me.  Moments when I can just Let It Be.............when the past or the future cease to exist and the only thing that matters, the only emotion I feel, is right now.

I had a few of those moments on Monday while I was walking on a sunny February day to meet a friend for lunch.  Whenever I walk in Paris, I usually have a vague map in my head of where I'm heading, but I usually end up taking a detour or two if I see something that catches my eye or if one street looks more interesting than the one I was planning to stroll on.  And so it was on Monday. I happened to walk by the Marie of the 9th Arrondissement by chance.  Every arrondissement of Paris has its own Marie (City Hall).  I live in the 9th so I was pretty excited to happen by my Marie.  I went in and took some photos.
The magnificent ceiling of the main room

A monument to honour citizens of the 9ieme arrondissement who were killed in WWI and WWII

As I entered the courtyard, the sun was shining, people were going about their business and I just felt like I was exactly where I should be.  I remember closing my eyes and feeling the sun on my face, and just being so happy to be there.  So at peace.

I continued my walk, making sure I found rue Richelieu because I wanted to go in and see the newly restored main reading room of the Richelieu wing of the Biblioteque National de France.  If you come to Paris, this building and especially this room are worth a detour.  It's truly spectacular and a shining example of the beauty that is all around us in Paris if you just look for it.

I snuck into this unlock room and took some photos

Look at that ceiling!

As I continued my stroll, I enjoyed the sights and sounds of Paris (I can't enjoy the smells, since I don't have a sense of smell lol).  Being an anal Canadian, I arrived very early to my lunch rendezvous. I realized how close I was to the Palais Royale and so I decided to walk over to kill some time.   I had last seen it the previous week, covered in the newly fallen snow that took Paris by storm (see what I did there?).  Today, the sun was shining, people were out sunning themselves, relaxing and enjoying a beautiful Monday afternoon in February.  I took more photos and suddenly had another moment of pure joy.  I remember seeing the flowers blooming (in February!) and Parisians sunning themselves and thinking how wonderful it was to just be alive right now.  How life is for living, how short it can be and how important it is to just let go and just enjoy it.  Now.  At this moment.

I've had several other such moments in the past few weeks ~ sitting in a tiny theatre, watching a play about a pivotal moment in France's history and thinking how wonderful it is that Paris supports these types of theatres and these types of plays ~ very non-commercial, intellectual and thought provoking. I watched people's rapt faces and how the small audience appreciated the two actors and the well written screenplay and I was so thrilled to just be there.  Visiting the Arthur Penn exhibit at the Grand Palais and marvelling over his ability to depict the ordinariness of famous people and the extraordinary qualities of world renowned others.  Happening upon a Klimt at the MoMA exhibit at the Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum.  Listening to a writer talk about hope and being kind to each other in the era of Trump politics.  Walking through les Tuilleries and seeing the bare trees form a kind of lace frame around the little lakes and walkways.  And spending time with friends ~ cherished friends who have welcomed me home, who listen to my joys and fears and worries, who encourage me to accept the joy of being here.  A dear friend who invited me to share the beauty of another part of France, who drove me tirelessly around for 4 days so I could experience some of the smaller towns and villages that make up this country.  Friends who share my love of Paris and who have come to live here because they understand what this city gives back to those who open their hearts to it.  Friends who have remade their lives and who live those lives on their terms.  Friends who gather around small tables in a Parisian cafe to discuss politics, life, memories and hopes and dreams.  I recently met a new friend who talked about growing up in the deep US south in the 1960s and watching from her darkened window as the Klu Klux Klan threw a fiery cross at the home two doors down from her to punish the man who lived there for promoting a black man at work.  Our group then had a conversation about racism and the current US administration.  These types of conversations feed my soul and my intellect and remind me why I am here and what's important to me. They bring me joy and contentment.

Yesterday I went to a lecture given by Roni Beth Tower,  a woman who wrote a book about finding love in mid-life. She spoke about the challenges of merging two lives, of moving to a new city and new country and leaving so much behind, and of being your true self and opening yourself up to new experiences and a new life.  So much of what she said resonated with me, and none more than what she told us at the end of her talk ~ tell your stories. Write them down and share them with your family and friends.  At that moment, I closed my eyes and gave thanks to whatever brought me to Paris for a year and to that little cafe in the Marais to hear this women articulate what I've been trying to do with my life.

One of my dear, sweet friends challenged me to try to find a moment of joy every day and to share it here.  I love that idea and will try to take up that challenge.  Ultimately, I hope this blog will be about my journey and who I am and who I want to be.  I hope it will be how Paris has changed me and has healed me.  How I have learned to Let It Be.............


  1. Lovely post from my 'hood. Lots of joy there :-)

    1. Yes, every time I pass the General Lafayette or le Passage Verdeau, I think of you :)

    2. We used to go to vote there in that Marie and did our PACS just en face :-) If you get time one day, wander around the inside of the Drouot auction house. Anybody can enter and it's like a free museum of its own.

  2. As I mentioned to you on one of your photos, it's so clear to me that you "are in the moment" in Paris. You are capturing the little delights/nuances of the city that most would rush past as they go about their day.

    1. Thank you Freda ~ I am certainly trying to savour every moment I am here and not take any of it for granted.

  3. Johanne, thank you for your photos, your stories, and the shout-out! I so enjoyed meeting you and hearing a bit about your current journey. May Paris and her pleasures and her secrets nourish your heart and help your soul have wings. Keep writing. Roni Beth

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I plan to keep Letting It Be and to keep enjoying and not take any of this gift for granted. I'm so happy we got to meet and I got to hear your story and realize how important it is to allow life to just happen. All my love, Jo