A Tourist of Life

May 02, 2024

Being a ‘tourist of life’ means to be open and curious to both new lands and home — to give and receive — to make an impact in this world (oh, and Paris is always a good idea!)

Well, Bonjour mes amis (Hello my friends...and btw, that’s about the extent of my French). I have returned from my trip to Paris, though I still feel like I’m flying in the clouds between two worlds. Still absorbing, processing, marinating in its magic. Still peeling and revealing the layers of this experience...and beaming.

When I close my eyes, I can still feel the ornate door handle on the French doors of my hotel room terrace within my hands. Each time I turned it, my heart was opened, my senses enlivened, my world expanded.

I hear the cacophony of the city below — the laughter of children running playfully on the gravel paths of the Tuileries Gardens, the sound of the European sirens in the distance (I know this sounds crazy, but I loved that noise, even joked it was my lullaby), the vibrant conversations of tourists exploring this glorious destination. All of it.

I see the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay and the iconic Eiffel Tower. I smell the crepe maker in the distance. My stomach growls. I float in a movie or a dream. Oh, how she is magnificent in all of her splendor.

I dreamed of this day for a long time. As I’ve shared here before, for many years my wings had been clipped. I had never traveled anywhere, now I desire to go almost everywhere. My thirst insatiable. But I see it all very differently now through a new life lens. Perhaps I even appreciate it now in ways I wouldn’t have if I had traveled there years ago.

I’d never seen anything as beautiful as this city before — they don’t call her the City of Light for no reason. She radiates no matter the time of day, but everyone should at least witness the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower once in their life (they twinkle the first 5 minutes of each hour during the evening) — purely breathtaking. Oh, and she’s impossible to stop photographing!

Paris. Paris. Paris. The architecture, the gardens, the design, the history, the old and the new, the creativity, the aliveness, the food, the food, the food (and of course, the continuous quest for vegan options...but I digress). She makes you want to hole up in a café by yourself with a good book or a journal, sipping your café au (vegan) lait, people watching or perhaps writing a great piece of literature. She inspires one to visualize and create.

I was literally brought to spontaneous tears that couldn’t be repressed on several occasions — strolling the glorious cathedrals, breathing in the incense and prayer, feeling the souls all about me. One brisk morning waiting in line to enter Sacre Coeur overlooking all of Paris from the top of Montmartre, a busker entertaining the line belted out a version of Hallelujah. At first, I just swayed ever so gently, but soon found myself belting the lyrics out with tears streaming down my cheeks and dancing in the street.

It's not like I can even put my finger on an exact reason why I was so moved each day by the beauty I was surrounded by, both God-made and man-made.

Strolling alongside Notre Dame I beamed up at her and praised her for her resilience to rise sister rise yet again. And I was equally humbled by the artistry and dedication of each who have participated in her reconstruction — from the 1000 workers to the reconstruction of the timber framework and beyond. 

We live in a beautiful world when we care to see it and connect to it. I will forever be a tourist of life connected to my curiosity and awe of all that I see, do, create and become.  

My time in Paris by taxi, foot, metro, and bike, fed my soul and my senses. Whether I was staring at the beauty of a world-famous painting (yeah, I cried here too), or at the flowers in bloom all around me — I was enlivened.

What should I create?

I’m not saying that I wanted to leave Paris (quite the contrary, but trust me we’ll meet again), but I was also relieved to breathe in my Catskill Mountains. While April in Paris is a bit ahead weatherwise — slightly warmer and more in bloom, it is the harbinger of what I could soon expect in my sweet little town to be upon my arrival.

Travel reminds us where we want to go and what we have to return to.

It inspires us to appreciate nature, God, our furry and feathered friends, each other — and this precious life.

I missed out on all the hullabaloo surrounding the eclipse and the earthquake but witnessed the tail end of Mercury Retrograde and a powerful full moon. WOW, we are in some strange and intense times.

I wasn’t going to let the news of the world be the buzzkill to my Paris high. But it certainly has me thinking of ways we can expand our thinking, nurture our minds, our gratitude, our planet and our fellow human beings.

I remain devout in my conviction to do my best, pray for the collective, remain open and curious and to be an eternal tourist of life and find my ways to make a contribution.

Care to join me?

*And Happy Birthday dear sweet Garden Café. 5/15/15. A day that changed my life forever and created an infinite community of family. Cheers to us. This is OUR celebration. Come share a toast with us this month!

—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


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