The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #1 Live a Passionate Life
And so we make our way to the end of the countdown. Some of you may have seen this coming- I’ve touched on it in almost every post I’ve written. There is no doubt about it- while living in Paris the most important and profound thing I learned was to live a passionate life.
Eckhart Tolle, the new age philosopher says, “What you do is secondary. How you do it is primary”. Now while Eckhart Tolle isn’t French, his philosophy here very much so is. The importance is, of course, doing what you are passionate about, but if you find yourself doing something mundane, still do it passionately.
Passion infuses into almost every aspect of French life. The French are available and ready in the present moment for all of the pleasures that life has to offer. They manage to get the biggest kicks out of the simplest things- a perfect slice of chocolate cake, a look across the room from a handsome stranger or a particularly well written verse of prose… They are intense individuals that jump in and really live their life- nothing is wasted.
That first day in Paris, standing on the doorstep of Famille Chic’s home, I had no idea what I was about to embark on. My young life, vibrating with a desire for change was about to go on the biggest adventure I’ve ever known. Thrust into a strange and beautiful land… living with a formal family like something out of an old fashioned novel- those decadent meals, their beautiful apartment- that inspiring space.
The people I met- Madame Bohemienne and her artistic friends- those passionate, wine fueled gatherings. Walking on a bridge over the river Seine in the icy cold. Feeling so completely content as a solitary figure riding the metro on the way to school or walking down the Champs Élysée observing all of the chic people…
…but again so grateful when a moment could be shared with someone else. Those bursts of feeling that came upon me when I heard the secret midnight quartet at the Louvre. When I first saw Manet’s Dejuener Sur L’Herbe at the Musee d’Orsay. Every night having a slice of camembert- the ‘roi du fromage’.
Now that I am 30 years old, with husband and daughter, I find myself the Madame Chic of my own family. I learned so much from her and from living in Paris. I want to share this wealth of knowledge with my daughter and it has to be said the one thing I want for her most is to live a life of passion- to fall in love with everyday life. That it doesn’t matter what she does- it can be something as mundane as going to the grocery store- but the important thing is how she does it. To be present and ready for whatever this funny life has in store for her.
Every now and then I close my eyes and imagine standing on the doorstep of Famille Chic, about to knock- the butterflies in my stomach going mad with the sheer possibility of life.
And then… the door opens.
I am pictured above, jumping with joy, in front of La Tour Eiffel in Paris, 2001
My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.