“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
A few days ago, I was in Paris. It’s one of my favourite cities.
Travelling brings me immeasurable joy. Personally, it is a priority for me. Experiencing different cultures, fashion, languages and foods [in their country of origin] is something I believe anyone physically and financially able to do so, should avail themselves of.
During this mini-break, my aim was to show my travel-buddy (who previously hated Paris), what a beautiful, interesting and charmed city it is while reaffirming my love for it. Mission accomplished. In addition, despite it being my fourth trip to Paris, I gained something else from the experience.
In between rambling along the linear streets and visiting landmarks, gazing up at the architecture in between stuffing our faces and romanticising the idea of spending a sabbatical in Paris to learn French and write poems, it occurred to me that the bustling, artsy city of Paris could be a metaphor for life.
Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Scarves are ubiquitous, a lot like problems. Pay attention to people as you walk around. You’ll see men, women and children with all sorts of scarves wrapped or skilfully tied around their necks. Although everyone doesn’t wear their problems so visibly (what a crazy world that would be), we all have them. Now the sight of a scarf makes me wonder what battle others might be facing.
2. The Paris Metro is so confusing! As is life a lot of the time. Therefore, it helps to have a plan (goals) and a map (faith/principles). I know plans can, do and will change – they are for adjusting after all. But it’s difficult to [intentionally] arrive at any desired destination if you have no clue where you are going. Take it from someone who was almost lost on the Metro and in life, maps/goals are your friend and will set you back on the right path when you lose your way.
3. Loneliness is a state of mind but I actually like solitude. Oftentimes in major cities, as in life, you will be surrounded by lots of people. If you are anything like me then you still have the propensity to feel alone. Irrespective of how awesome my close friends and family are or the number of interesting acquaintances I have, I recharge best when alone. And that’s okay.
4. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good. Homelessness is so visible in Paris – moreso than in a number of cities I have been to (or so it felt). While it is impossible to help everyone, you can start by impacting those around you. If, like one of my friends, you don’t feel comfortable giving cash away on the street, you could buy food instead, volunteer at a shelter or even something as simple as giving your clothes to charity. Life is tough, unfair and quite often tragic, but it is juxtaposed by so much beauty.
5. Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. In Paris, some of the residents aren’t always that sympathetic to non-French speakers. If you focus on the negativity of others, then it could ruin your experience of the beautiful city as a whole. In life, if you stay angry, it will probably affect you more than anyone else so forgive. Easier said than done but worth trying.