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The Beginning, Belated

October 9, 2014

When I started this blog, I just jumped right to the daily highlights, without any sort of introduction about why I’m writing it or why I’m here. Since the blog is only visible to those whom I call friends, I figured many of you already know enough about me to figure that out. Still, before I left, people would ask me, “Why are you going to France for six weeks?” I struggled for an answer that made sense and didn’t sound totally self-indulgent.

The older I get, the more I reject the idea of a bucket list as a laundry list of things to hurry up and do, then die. So it’s not that. But coming to France for an extended stay and doing my daily business in French is something I’ve always wanted to do. But it’s more.

Sunday was one of those magical days when I felt fully present in this place. As I sat on a bench in the Place Jean Jaures with the warm sun on my face, the wind scattering leaves around, I felt overwhelming gratitude for my life. Later, on my terrace on Rue du Théron, I gazed at the gathering clouds like cotton balls being pulled apart, delicate white strands against the deep blue sky — an Impressionist’s sky — and watched them turn pink as the sun set.

Sky 1          Sky 2

It may have been this peace that I sought without being able to articulate it, this freedom to chart my days according to my whim.  I know I couldn’t do it forever, but these weeks are a gift: a time to rest, to think, to learn, to write, to make pictures.  I have slowed down to notice everything, and that’s a wonderful feeling. This extended freedom from obligations is a new experience for me, as I’m sure it would be for most of you.

It’s like hitting the reset button, clearing out the clutter and making room for fresh experiences and insights, and being ever so grateful for the life I have.

The Sunday afternoon peace was shattered, as it is every evening around 6:30 or 7, by the raucous chattering and screaming of the birds swarming the church tower, as if by some avian signal. But it couldn’t ruin that feeling of serenity I had achieved.

“Here dies another day / During which I have had eyes, ears, hands / And the great world round me; And with tomorrow begins another. / Why am I allowed two?”  G.K.Chesterton

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One Comment
  1. I am so glad you are able to experience this. You expressed your contentment so well I could feel it through time and distance. There is something very special about being in a new place for an extended length of time. That feeling will stay with you and nourish you when you need it. Blessings!

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