Thursday 19 August 2021

A red hat in Paris

My heart in Paris

Paris, a city I know like the back of my hand and have not had the opportunity to visit since November 2018. Now, I do transit through Charles de Gaulle Airport, but that is another story. The truth is I miss Paris, the café culture, and my seat on the first floor of Café Beaubourg watching onto the front of the Georges Pompidou Centre, that I have never visited, as the world goes by.

That view I have cherished for 21 years, a place of memories and much else, for some friends have departed or fallen apart, and this apart from those from whom one receives no alerts of conversation or communication anymore.

A walk of life

Stepping out of Café Beaubourg after brunch, I bear left onto Rue Saint-Merri, cross Rue Saint-Martin which as certain times host venues of excitable pleasures with strangers and then I am at a milliner’s where every colour of hat exists to challenge your daring. That is where I eventually decided, the day after on a red pork-pie hat.

I put the hat I was wearing in the bag and stepped out with this callout of brilliance that elicited commentary every few steps I took, I was looking good and feeling just as good too. Then on to Boulevard de Sebastopol past Place du Chatelet, down the ramp to the north side of the Seine and a walk westwards towards Pont Neuf where I found a seat to observe the river traffic, take in the winter sun and some photographs too.

You can’t have not

One of such photographs became the source of a compliment, my outfit with the red hat according to him, he loved, and I looked really cool. I acknowledged and asked if he was doing well too. He was preparing for the day and out of interest asked where the picture was taken which gave life to my knowledge of Paris.

To my concealed shock, he had never visited Paris nor been around Europe though he planned to do a bit of travel before he was 50. Now, I can understand people planning for adventures and exploration at a later point in life, taking it as a given. For instance, he had another 12 years to fulfil those desires, if we are sure of things, times, and terms.

The time for travel is now

I have learnt, the only time we have is the moment called now, the past is gone, the future uncertain, so we are left asking the question, what are we doing with the now? It is where I suddenly get philosophical because it is necessary to have things in perspective.

Any time you get to do travel, do it, do not wait for a time you might think is convenient. I am 55 and thankfully 12 years after cancer which at prognosis only gave me 5 weeks to live if my physiology could not tolerate the treatment. Before that illness, I thought myself inviolable and invincible.

Banish the spectre of regret

Whilst not trying to sound morbid, the time we have for anything is now and what we must not waste the now on is to set ourselves up for a future of regrets at what we could have done. It is the same thinking I had at the end of 2018 when at one point I was undecided about going on holiday to South Africa until I caught myself thinking, if I did not travel, I might well regret it.

I did travel and I met Brian with whom I hope someday to visit Paris and see the sights that have enthralled me. Too many people have options and opportunities before them, but they, out of the embarrassment of choices and an inkling of self-worth set themselves on for the prospects and possibilities ignoring what is at hand. I hope they can reset their course before no option is available, those opportunities are lost and the possibilities they dared to dream of shatter into shards of regret.

No prophet would come into your indecision, but you will hear some voices and some advice as good as prophecy, now for the discernment to make that move and make it count.

Paris by the Seine - February 2017

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