Saturday, August 6, 2011

Flexing the bliss muscle

Louvre fatigue. Happens to the best of us.
I've been in Paris awhile now.

Notre Dame Cathedral is the same on day 50 as it is on Day 1. The majesty remains but the awe fades. There are times I'm fighting my way through a pack of tourists and I miss the cathedral all together. That's when I stop myself and remember that I'm in PARIS.

I'm in charge of my gasps of awe.

For most of my life, I didn't dream of all the things girls usually dream about. Barbie clothes were hard to put on and take off and Cabbage Patch Kids creeped me out. But I dreamed of Paris. I dreamed of speaking French and of buying a baguette on the walk home. I dreamed of sitting in cafés like they do in postcards. I dreamed of walking around the Louvre and gazing at the Mona Lisa.

Cut to yesterday. Christophe and I go to the Louvre. I'm almost dragging him to the Mona Lisa to get it over with because there are crowds and I get panicked in crowds. He was pulling me back to look at the art before we got to the Mona Lisa. The rare, wonderful works of art that often get missed by people like me dragging their boyfriends to the Mona Lisa.

But I'd seen the Mona Lisa before and I was anxious to get to other parts of the museum. Once we arrived, I was dragging him though the crowd to see the most famous painting in the world. I was so focused on crowd penetration that I lost sight of the fact that I was in the presence of the the most famous painting in the world. 

At that point I sensed that 1) I was being annoying, and 2) I was in charge of my enthusiasm, and 3) I was walking through my dream right now so I'd better act like it. I'd better remember to gasp and feel lucky.

The last time I was at the Louvre, I was lonesome. And now I had this lovely man who is just wanting to hold my hand and look at some art. Instead of feeling lucky about it, I was in my stuff, trying to race through the crowd and not see what I came to see.

The greatest teachers are right in front of us.  

Along with the great artists who teach us that we can live great lives being artists, there was Christophe pulling me back to see what I was missing.

What I was missing was the present moment.

So I got all Eckhart Tolle with myself and decided to actively stay present. I took his lead. I put my English map in my pocket and let him lead us through the museum with his French map. It turns out he loves being the map person. I wouldn't have known this otherwise.

My heart stopped racing. I stopped sweating. I calmed down. I started to see more.

We came across a sword collection. I noticed when Christophe gasped at their beauty. Ah yes, one must remember to gasp, I told myself.

And in the Egyptian wing, when he stopped short at the hieroglyphics, I caught myself making a beeline for the mummy. I remembered to stay present. To not rush. I turned and came back to gaze at a beautiful and intricately illustrated story that I would have otherwise missed.

There were times though, that I couldn't muster enthusiasm for something that keenly interested him. That's when I started watching people. And that's when I took the photo shown above. Check out her hair, her mood, her green dress! This is the most beautiful photo of the day. And I would have missed it had I not stopped to take notice of what was right in front of me.

All this said, the Louvre is ginormous and there came a point where I could no longer flex my bliss muscle. So we left and grabbed lunch at a café. An hour later, we returned and marveled at the chandeliers in Napoleon's apartment.

It never occurred to me that you could leave the Louvre half way though. There is a line for ticket holders. You can walk right in. But this is Paris and Parisians will never let anything get in the way of lunchtime. I should have known.

So now I am trying to remember to gasp more. To muster the enthusiasm I had the first week. To see what I would have otherwise missed.

Look closer.


  1. Ah the Louvre...
    Wonderful story.
    The Nike Winged Victory statue has always been a lifelong beauty for me. However, I remember stopping for a long time to photograph the arched ceiling above her while crowds of people pushed around me to see the statue.

  2. Richard, I dig the Nike Winged Victory, too. And it's placement is perfect. There is also something perfect about how people walk around it, too.

  3. Thank you, Janice, for reminding us to "flex the bliss muscle". That is such an important part of life in this fast-paced world. Today's blog was truly inspirational!!!


  4. Hey Mari, I'm inspired by you being inspired. In fact, I will deliberately gasp at your comment. GASP! Hey, that really works. Bliss and enthusiasm rock.

  5. How much do I love the person yiou are? A reminder to flex the bliss mucle could not have come sooner!!!!!!
    Love you!

  6. Forgive my typos. My fingers are too big for the iPhone. :-)

  7. I'm dying to know what green dress lady is pondering. Beautiful picture.

  8. Ah, The Power of Now. That Eckhart knows his stuff. I read that book when I was in Europe, too - trying to get my focus off my stuff.

    I love this post. It makes me wish I hadn't been as tired at the Louvre as the girl in the picture!

  9. Scott: Your comment brings me bliss! And you know what they say about big fingers ;)

    Vapid Vixen: If she were like me, she'd be wondering why she hadn't worn more comfortable shoes.

    Mel Heth: I'm glad I wasn't the only one. When you and I were in Rome, I noticed that Rome became the backdrop and you became much more interesting. Good thing Mr. W was in charge of directions.

  10. i would have b-lined it for the mummy too :) yes, I would!!


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