30 April, 2009, Paris, France
The last day of the month. A weird one. Upon reflection, I’m not sure where it went. Maybe that’s the nature of the situation…Feels like I accomplished so much, and, at the same time, nothing at all.
Seemingly endless days wandering the city; some enlightening, some totally pointless. Not sure I actually “did” anything, in the end. One senses how this place; this colossus, behemoth, monolith of Babylon, can swallow whole lifetimes like so many tasty sweets. Art it may be, but there is a vein of unsentimental blackness, too…
Today I was just tired — of wandering, of solitude, of fucking Paris. And yet I found solace for a brief hour or so in a café beside Place des Vosges. A momentary respite — soaking up the sun and reading the newspaper. I’ve been feeling like there is only one speed with which to deal with this city and that pace is draining. Yet all I’ve done is go in circles, vaguely orbiting Paris’ vortices like some lone traveler in the farthest reaches of space.
Maybe this is what I needed after the unsentimental utility of Windsor. But this city is humbling — a mausoleum of mastery, it reminds how much driven genius there once was in this world, and how little you’ve recently done to live up to it. Perhaps this is the essential conundrum — as a visitor, even for some time, one can only be a spectator. And indeed it is quite a spectacle. But the internal drive is dulled by this — you are either audience or performer. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to do both.
The intense variation and range of Paris demands acknowledgment — it insists on the lesson that there are those better AND worse off, and even in the end that it is all relative. Difficult to typify, the people of Paris are humanity, in all its multi-faceted splendor.
Still, this doesn’t seem to be enough. I want more. More spirit, drive, success, challenge, diversity, experience…Life. Where does this unquenchable desire come from? Can’t I just move past it, to some satisfying Buddhist moment — desireless, balanced, content? Not likely around here. This place is driven by desire — for greatness and the deepest depths. All at once.