“Not everything can be important, and not always,” I said. “That would be awful.” ~ Pascal Mercier
When we sat down to make our list of “Things to Do” in Paris, the conversation ended with everyone feeling overwhelmed, anxious and tired and we weren’t even there yet!
It led to a much more meaningful conversation about why we feel like we are missing something if we don’t see everything. Where does that belief come from? Is that mindset serving us on this journey? Has it ever served us to cram? How do we change it?
When we really took the time to reflect on the times in our life that were/are the most meaningful, we came to the conclusion that it was about the experience more than checking things off the list.
We agreed that when we try to cover too much ground, we end up not really “touching” anything in a meaningful and memorable way. SO, we narrowed the list from fifty-three things to do in Paris to three.
I had moments of panic when we had free time. I wanted to fill it with a quick trip to Rodin or a river boat cruise. I am so glad we didn’t. The free time gave us something we have rarely experienced. It gave us time to process the experience while we were still in it.
It was remarkable to have time to savor the anticipation of our chosen sights. We talked about climbing the stairs up the Eiffel Tower for days. We wondered how it would feel to have the wind whip through the iron. We speculated about the difficulty and about how it would feel to ascend such a structure.
It was equally novel to give ourselves the luxury to reminisce and tell stories about an experience that was still happening.
As we sat at the top of the Notre Dame cathedral, after climbing the tower one worn marble step at a time, we talked about the personalities of the gargoyles. We wondered how anyone could have every rung so many bells by hand. We discussed the view from the top of the cathedral and how different it was from the Eiffel Tower vista.
For museums, we picked the Louvre. Yes, we narrowed it down but the Louvre itself is a bit daunting. How can we simplify it even more? We invested in a beautifully executed scavenger hunt and walk through history designed for kids ages 6-12.
Our guide was completely focused on engaging our children and in teaching them about history by placing them in it as often as possible. We talked, and we compared and we laughed and we had no where else to be but exactly where we were.
Our time in Paris has me thinking about how I would apply depth versus breadth to my life, as I knew it before this journey. I often crammed on vacation, crammed in summer camps, crammed in healthy meals and snacks before running to the next thing.
I think that at that center of my cramming was the fear of missing something. What I now know is that I was missing “it” because I was cramming. I will never forget Paris. What a beautiful place to learn such an important lesson. If we didn’t cross out 50 things on our list, we would have missed “it.”