Saturday, May 3, 2014

Botanizing the Asphalt

Luxumbourg Gardens

Belonging under the heading of You Can't Plan for This Kind of Synchronicity, is this, about traveling solo to Paris. It appeared on the New York Times website today. If you look at my post from yesterday, you will see a photo similar to the one at the top of the NYT piece. I, too, took a picture of a single chair in the Luxumbourg Gardens. Crazy.

Flânerie is, in its purest form, a goal-less pursuit, though for some it evolved into a purposeful art: Walking and observing became a method of understanding a city, an age. Baudelaire described the flâneur as a passionate spectator, one who was fond of “botanizing on the asphalt,” as the essayist Walter Benjamin would later put it. Typically, it was a man. No longer.

That was exactly what I did there. I do it in Washington, too. I engage in flanerie. The person who wrote the piece had a lot more fun than I did, but then again she was in Paris to gather experiences she could weave together for this article. She wasn't there to grieve her aunt, to grieve an earlier era of life and the world. For her, the time in Paris wasn't a soul retrieval, an initiation, and an important chapter of ongoing ancestor work. But it was for me.

Actually, she probably did some ancestor work whether she wanted to or not, or whether or not she was aware of it. Paris is a soulful city. I think it would be hard to go there without connecting in some way with the ancestors.

I had hoped to connect with the Parisii, the Celtic tribe that inhabited the Ile thousands of years ago. However, I could not pick up on their wavelength, nor was I able to tune in to any of the French Revolution, off-with-their-heads energy, even in the Place de Vosage, which I adored. Likewise I couldn't find the fabulous artist/writer vibe from the 1920s. What I did connect with was the Roman energy. Hmmm.

The Place de Vosage.

I also was very aware of the echoes of my aunt's era in Paris, the post WWII Paris and the years of the French new wave in the 1950s and 1960s. There are so many layers of history there, no one can find a wavelength with which to tune in the whole spectrum. That would be madness.

Today I feel even more back to myself than yesterday. In a certain way I'm more myself than I have been since this idea came into my mind, to go to Paris. That was just a couple of weeks before my 60th birthday.

It is good to be back, I mean all the way back. I am done with Paris. Onwards and upwards.

L'chaim and shalom.

A really old sundial. Go into the courtyard at the Hotel Sully. Go into the inner courtyard. It's on a wall at the back. Then walk through the door in the wall, and find yourself in the Place de Vosage. Magical. Like the Secret Garden.

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