Midday in Paris

This is an attempted articulation of some thoughts that came to my mind while galavanting around Paris the past 11 days. One of my favorite things about traveling is how every new place brings to the forefront different thoughts that are simmering just below the surface, hidden and unaddressed.  It was more eloquent in my head. But here it is anyways:

It's a strange thing, the realization that you're human. Not the conceptual realization that you're existing on Earth with a job and to-do list with billions of others. The REAL realization, of the absolute lunacy yet simultaneously profound perfection that is the human experience...

Notre Dame Cathedral--Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral--Paris

It happens in stages. (At least it did for me.)

(Maybe) it starts when you become aware of your understanding of language; the intonations, inflections, pronunciations, and the gratitude for understanding (at least a small part of) an arbitrary human creation, that despite its frustrations and complexities, allows you to connect with others SO DEEPLY, or not at all...

Because sometime words are simply superfluous, and using them only cheapens the feelings of a given moment. Fortunately, in those times when millions of words to choose from all seem inadequate there are things that speak volumes more...a gesture, a look in the eye, or a simple smile.

And/or because sometimes words are said with an intentional deceit. And this we realize too, is a unique part of being human, the need to protect, cover up, hide some of our most genuine "inhuman" qualities under blankets of fear-filled phrases and lies that come out tasting bitter, like burnt coffee, or the words from the soul of a down-trodden poet.

Speaking of poets, pain, too, is a beautiful tragedy. Desperately avoided by everyone in existence, but when found and confronted, strangely liberating, because the wrapping of our pain in our most empathetic and genuine of embraces brings a profound happiness that we can in fact feel, and understand more deeply.

Paris

Paris

And feeling is the key to experiencing beauty. Ironically, beauty is also an intrinsic part of being human, but cannot be described with words, one of the few things--from a human's perspective--that make the human experience "real." Ironic isn't it? It's as if we've taken the most intimately beautiful parts of life and cheapened it with attempts at silly verbal (or written) explanations. Yet at the same time, these words create the the foundation on which we can all relate to the beauty of life, together.

But despite the comfort found in outward expressions of happiness, joy, gratitude...you come to realize that something as ethereal as beauty speaks not to the mind or to expectation. It speaks directly to the heart and very simply supersedes any language, rendering it utterly useless.

And what we are left with, the feeling of beauty that cannot be articulated (but not for lack of effort by many a writer) is called love. And love can cross any boundary, no matter how far, or how high. It's infinite unbridled nature makes it appear inhuman in its capacity...while it inexplicably grounds the human experience with its limitless potential. This apparent contradiction is profound and felt by many who find great worth in trying to articulate it. 

So then we are back to language.

It's complicated in its simplicity.

Louvre museum--Paris

Louvre museum--Paris

When you realize you are human you also become acutely aware of just how human everyone is around you; the shared desire for comfort, happiness and love. The shared fear of pain, accompanied by the innate understanding that it will come, but it too will pass. For you and for everyone. Each human experience is profoundly unique and yet no different than that of the stranger across the street or across the ocean.

An understanding of the human experience means that strangers become...familiar. We are all united in our simultaneous fragility and resilience.

Living becomes...communal.

Joy becomes...more abundant.

And who doesn't want that?