Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sight-seeing or Sight-thinking?


If you have ever taken a guided sight-seeing tour, you will recall that sometimes at the end of the day it is difficult to remember exactly what you have seen. With the cost of travel and the brevity of vacation time, sometimes a guided tour is the best possible option. However, as a retired person, time is a luxury
that I am able to enjoy.

My Paris days, which will soon come to an end, have taken on a very relaxed pattern. My sleeping area is hidden behind stained glass doors and the curtains are heavy. Every night, there are different noises: revellers, early morning deliveries, street cleaners or heavy-footed neighbours. It doesn't bother me at all. If I am awake, I listen to the BBC radio and I am able to stay in bed if I please.

What a strange revelation! I have always been the earliest lark in a family of early-birds. I have taken great pride in this…The early bird catches the worm….Early to bed, early to rise….BUT, there is no worm to catch and I'm as healthy, wealthy and wise as I'm ever going to be. That's an epiphany of retirement and of age. Striving is no longer necessary.
I found a stone angel in a garden. It made me think of a book that I read long ago.
In the morning, I eat some yogurt and fruit, shower, do laundry, edit photos, read and write. I spend quite a lot of time thinking about what I have seen or done and some time planning for my next destination. As I am alone, I am free to live in the moment but flights do need to be booked and reservations made.

I often carry my book to the same table at the same corner café to eat my salad or fish for the day. Life is easy when there are few decisions to be made. A glass of Sancerre (chablis has become too expensive) and a café expresso mean that I can read a few pages. I am savouring Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald, a book recommended by Materfamilias. I am not rushing through the novel as it is enigmatic, rich with descriptions and meant to be read reflectively.

There will always be new sights to see in Paris. The expositions at the museums change frequently, the gardens bloom with new plantings, each café offers different culinary treats and shop windows are frequently en cours. For me, I know that I don't have to rush or make too many decisions about my day because wherever I go, whatever I see will be perfect.
a giant Easter egg painted by a Croatian artist
One of my May destinations is a 10 day walking visit in Devon and Cornwall so it is important that I walk for at least 2 hours each day. Walking is my daily afternoon activity. Although I must admit that I stop frequently to explore courtyards and small parks, I am now able to climb my stairs without stopping to take a breath.

The sun has been shining in Paris for the whole time that I have been here. Not a day when my quilted coat has been necessary! I am so joyful to be able to be here that even the sound of the street sweeper outside my window seems like music. My wish for today is that every person find his/her own spot that
feels perfect!

6 comments:

  1. It sounds like such an idyllic time! I hope the good weather follows you on your walking tour.

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    1. Hopefully, you will have good weather when you arrive.

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  2. Wonderful! This is how we feel in Paris, indeed we try to think this way in any beautiful & walkable city: we don't have to worry about decisions because, as you say, wherever [we] go, whatever [we] see will be perfect.
    I very much applaud your ability to be comfortable by yourself. Before his retirement a few years ago, my husband worked in another city for the last 8 or 10 years of his career, and I got very comfortable with my own company, my own rhythms. Yet so many friends reacted as though I must be lonely or afraid to be on my own . . . Enjoy your last few days in that spot that feels so perfect to you!

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    1. So many people have a hard time being by themselves. As a friendly introvert, there are so many solitary activities that I enjoy. It will be a totally different experience when I go to Shetland as I have a lot of family who will be eager to visit with the Canadian cousin.

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  3. The rhythmn of your days does have a certain appeal...
    I can see you sitting in that cafe, book in hand reading a bit and pausing to observe what is happening all around.
    The walking tour of Devon and Cornwall will be beautiful. We have friends who did it and they showed us a Power Point presentation. The scenery is stunning and those charming seaside cottages hugging the cliffs are so charming.
    Take care.

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    1. For lots of us, a daily routine is soothing and reassuring. Your latest post on restorative practice strikes a chord with me as I find simple quotidian tasks restorative (junk drawer, linen closet, vignettes with this and that). Watching and listening in a café is a great pastime. My Shetland, Devon and Cornwall time will be very different from my Paris time. Bon vendredi saint!

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