Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rowing gently down the stream

Boats on the Seine.

It never occurred to me to grieve my youth because I wasn't very happy as a young person. That mantra, every day in every way, life gets better and better, has resonated for me. But when I turned sixty, the need to grieve for all that was, and all that was never meant to be, arose - unbeknownst, since my mind is always the last to know.

Shortly before I turned sixty, the idea came to me that I had to see Paris again in this lifetime. Initially I was able to talk myself down from that idea by way of reason. Going to Paris in mid-February, all alone, with everyone I love somewhere else, would surely not have been an ideal way to enter what my sister's acupuncturist calls the "third third" of life.

Maybe it would have been better to just get it out of the way, who knows? I'll never know because I didn't do it. I resisted the urge to buy the ticket, but could not resist thinking about it. From February 13, 2013, until the end of April this year when my foot at last made contact with the sandy basin of that ancient city, I dreamed of the trip. I yearned, I longed to be in Paris. I talked about it, I thought about it. I read and studied. I had maps and books all around me about Paris. I felt the city calling me. I certainly am not the first person, nor will I be the last, to be summoned there.

I had a year and a half to imagine how the trip would pan out. I didn't see the details, except I knew I would walk around, take pictures, and sit in cafes. Other than that, I didn't know how it would be. One thing I was sure of is that I would feel at home there.

I haven't visited lots of times, but my first journey was in the winter of 1979-80. I was twenty-six. That and every subsequent trip has had a profound impact on me. I've had a long-term, long distance relationship with Paris. Of course I thought the city would be familiar. But no. It was as if I had never been there before. The one thing I was sure of turned out to be totally off. I was very ill at ease, extremely. It's interesting.

In addition to the ancestor work of grieving my aunt and family before her who died in the Holocaust, also in addition to the soul retrieval which has made me "glow-y" as a friend puts it, I was there to grieve my youth and a different time in the world. That's the perfect thing to do on the occasion of turning sixty. At sixty, it's time to begin letting go.

Life is short. You can really feel how short it is when in an ancient city. In Paris I felt life's briefness, and I grieved.

The DC friends I met up with in Paris. They were there to celebrate turning 60, too.

Yesterday's cold drained my head not only of the smell of Paris, but cleared a lot of grief. The common cold is a systemic cleanse, also the only way the body knows to grieve. It's the immune system saying, "Hey! It's not my day to die. I'm here. I will prevail."

Bless my immune system.

I slept fitfully last night, intermittently coughing, mostly blowing my nose. I knew the cold was on its way out when my throat stopped hurting. It passed through me like a thunderstorm. As I tossed and turned, went through a second box of kleenex, I tried to put the Paris trip together in all its parts. It was a three-D tetris game, stretching backwards and forwards in time and into several of the eleven dimensions physicists talk about.

Tossing, turning, coughing, blowing, tetris - this is all part of integrating what has happened to me. I cleared a lot of inner space yesterday. This is a good thing.

Today I'm easing back into work. I took antihistamines because in addition to the last dregs of the cold, I'm reacting to oak and grass pollen. The air is so full of pollen it actually appears to be green.

I'm not complaining. Life is glorious, a precious existence, as the Buddhists say. Let it be fecund! L'chaim!

Just outside my front door, this morning. Glorious.

1 comment:

  1. If I may say so, I think in some ways you are brutalizing your memories of Paris. When we were there you seemed fine -- happy and adventurous. I know you said that was one of your better days, but still -- could you be revisiting Paris so heavily in your mind that you're casting a negative pall over it? Back away from Paris! Embrace that beautiful view outside your door! (And indeed it seems you are, based on what you wrote here.)