This week was the autumn vacation window for kids (les vacances d’automne) and we got invited to stay in some splendid villa with a new friend in the South of France. We had plans, we have ideas we’re chasing, and we just couldn’t figure out how to stop working long enough to enjoy any time off (after all, it feels like school JUST started…) and we were struck with this tension that very much captured our sense of being here but not REALLY being here. Our rhythm is not aligned to the city, to this place.
And then, another new acquaintance from Paris sent me this today:
A traveler, by definition, moves around the universe—that, at least, is the Copernican view we believe in to begin with. But as we travel around the world, we discover that just the opposite is true, that we are in fact the center of our own universe, as the ancient cosmogony would have it.
Travelers stay put, with their personal tunes, their mobile computers, their phones that store cherished data, their friends in their heads and their pianos in their bellies, as the Henri Tachan song goes. Travelers remain at the center of the world, while the whole world moves and revolves around them, as in one of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films.
Travel is not about rushing to reach some goal or refuge. It’s about stopping to take in the changing surroundings, like a stormy sky. It’s about folding up your umbrella and letting the rain fall on your soul, as on a house without a roof.
We have brought with us all sorts of our American and Californian point of view with us. We are holding on to these and not letting the rain fall on our soul, to be changed by our context. I’m not sure that’s bad, but I’m also not sure that’s good.