Je Suis Paix

St. Benedict The Painted Church

St. Benedict, The Painted Church

As is often the case when I’m feeling blue or even trying to fill time, my last trip to Paris was my touchstone.  And now as my beloved City of Light is a victim of terror, I stand with her since she was my respite at the end of one of my worst years.  While I would lean on that trip 15 years ago to center me, other places I’ve discovered since are also instrumental in keeping me sane.DSC02182

A highlight on my recent trip to Kona in Hawai’i was a historic landmark in Kealakekua known as the Painted Church or St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church.  The moniker was given due to its colorful interior of biblical figures and stories rendered by the parish priest Father John in the mid-1800s. When we drove up, it had started to rain, turning to mist, just as it would in Paris or once in Berkeley when I would fall in love for the first time.

Colorful Interior

        Colorful Interior

The moment was both enchanting and spiritual, and I was most present and connected with my fellow travelers, this time with my brother, his wife, my nephew and my parents, just as I was with those whom I went on my Paris trip.  I remember being at a younger age not having the foresight how my life would be as I got older, perhaps because I didn’t know how long I would live.  But if there is one constant through the years, it is my family, and I would count on them for the spiritual love that I am seeking.

 

 

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The Power of Negative Thinking

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive ThinkingI told myself once when I am properly ensconced in the right job that I would take steps to do more of the things I love.  But I realize nothing was really stopping me (with the exception of my finances), and I just needed to be in the right frame of mind.

Journalist Oliver Burkeman brought this front and center in his book “The Antidote:  Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” (excerpts of which could also be found in http://time.com).

It also reminded me of the 1995 movie “French Kiss,” in which Meg Ryan’s character managed to overcome her fear of flying with the help of the incorrigible Kevin Kline, to finally confront her scoundrel fiance (Timothy Hutton) and his hottie on a beach in Cannes:

“Well… Charlie, I’m going through some sort of transitional thing. See, after you called, I decided to get on a plane to Paris and get you back.

But there was no way everything I’d been building toward would be destroyed because some pouty little–this is before I knew you personally–bitch, wanted to steal a husband.

I bought the ticket, got on the plane and somehow made it over the ocean. Then an extraordinary thing happened.

Everything went wrong.

So I was wandering the streets of Paris, penniless, without a hope in the world.  And, let me tell you, you can do a lot of soul-searching in a time like that. I realized that I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to protect myself from exactly this situation.

And you can’t do it. There’s no home safe enough, no relationship secure enough.  You’re setting yourself up for an even bigger fall and having an incredibly boring time in the process.  Sorry, Charlie.”

Check the movie out for yourself: 

Paris in December

Yes, it is sitting on a wooden wine box.

Yes, it is sitting on a wooden wine box.

A year ago it was so difficult to allow myself to find joy around this time of year, but I look around and see it so much more clearly now.  As another song goes, love is all around.

I removed from storage a framed collage of photos of my Paris trip long ago and set it prominently on my shelf as a reminder of happy days–they are here again.  The pop songs never seem to end.

But I suppose what I’m trying to convey, at least to myself, is to keep things simple and light.  I know it’s easier said than done.  But when I push through a hardship, it’s important to focus on what is so good about being alive.

And then an interesting thing happened to me at the end of this year:  I landed a new job.  It was the Christmas gift I was waiting and hoping for.  In another moment of reflection, I remember a friend telling me to be sure I am running toward something as opposed to running away from a situation.  I’m happy to report it is the former.  Right now it does feel like Paris In December.