Paris Reflections

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Sunday evening our plane landed at Dulles after a 10-day jaunt to the City of Light. I was in Paris to host a five-day writing retreat, flâner (one day I got 22k steps = 11 miles!), and nurture my creative juice. Despite the Seine river being 16 feet higher than usual, numerous strikes, and the launch of a month-long soccer game during our stay, Paris didn’t disappoint.

After teaching my weekly mindfulness class at Tranquil Space last night I ran into a colleague who mentioned Paris being my happy place. I nodded in agreement as it is that. And so much more. My time in Paris serves as a battery recharge. An opportunity to step out of routine and into an environment that exudes beauty. I’m often asked, “Why Paris? What makes it so special?” Trying to answer this is both simple and complicated at the same time.

Let me start with simple. It’s the beauty that infuses daily life in Paris. Colorful outdoor markets filled with fresh produce. Bridges enhanced with gold leaf and iron lampposts. Lingering at sidewalk cafes to sip a pot of green mint tea. Black clothing (common here, NYC, and in Zen centers). Flower markets filled with peonies, roses, and lilies. Numerous bookstores and passion for physical books. An abundance of bubbly and rosé. Hausmannian buildings. Details inside these buildings: crown molding, chandeliers, colorful doors, wrought iron balconies. Well-manicured gardens filled with greenery and colorful flowers. Perfume. Rose macarons. Croissants. Frites. Scarves. Men in red pants. Off-leash dogs going everywhere with their companions. Bikes, motor scooters, and kick scooters as common forms of transportation. Museums filled with attractions. Edith Piaf and Carla Bruni. The sound of an accordion. Red lips.

Now for the complicated. Without being too cliche, it’s the je ne sais quoi of Paris. You know, a quality that cannot be named or easily described. I feel it as the cab pulls into the city and I spot the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe. There’s an energy there that’s different than the bright light-filled frenetic pace of a big city. It’s more of a feminine energy whispering, “savor me, slow down, drink me in.”

When we got home Sunday night (3am Paris time), I unpacked, organized my desk, and gleefully used my power toothbrush for the first time in 10 days before collapsing. While yesterday was filled with yoga, teaching, and meetings, I made sure to stop by the grocery store to pick up a few of the simple pleasures mentioned above—flowers and produce—while donning noir, red lips, and a post-yoga glow. And before bed I spritzed perfume and sipped tea.

While I may not live in Paris more than a few days per year, I choose to infuse my days in DC with these little gems that make life special. As Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Why not make those daily efforts magical? Bisous.