Today was one of those serendipitous days in which I woke up early with certain plans (to spend the day at Versailles) and they fell through. And so I found myself with a morning of free time, and decided that rather than wile away the hours stalking Fashion Week or editing photos, I would actually take time to explore my neighborhood. It is a beautiful Sunday here; high forties, clear blue sky, birds chirping and signs of spring everywhere. I took a couple of hours to stroll around the streets and explore the large local park.
Today was special because I left my apartment with no plan in mind, and no real sense of direction, except for the knowledge that there supposedly is a beautiful park on the outskirts of the neighborhood. I had my phone in my pocket, and when I looked up within the first two minutes and saw a beautiful building above me, I instinctively reached for it, intending, as always, to capture it on camera. And then I paused. I took my hand out of my pocket, took a deep breath, and simply let myself look and experience.
And so it continued for the rest of my walk. I saw many beautiful things, and I have seen many beautiful things since I arrived more than a month ago. But today I actually saw them. I didn’t have my face buried in a map; I didn’t have a set museum route; I didn’t have my camera poised at the ready. It’s amazing how lovely everything is; how much more you can truly appreciate what lies around you when you aren’t gazing at it through one of our million daily filters. It was a truly meditative experience, one that I have focused on in the past, but it occurred to me today just how long it has been since I really found this clarity.
I love my camera, my phone is as indispensable to me as the next person, and I do feel that documenting my experience abroad is truly important and I do not intend to stop doing so. Instead, I now realize that to make the most of this time (and life in general), I need to find a balance between looking and truly seeing.