In the aftermath of this week’s tragedies, I feel like my heart is breaking. I swing between feeling determined to be a positive part of the world and feeling vulnerable, sad and sick to the stomach. I expected to cry a lot this week, but I didn’t expect to feel like I’ve swallowed a sack of stones which are now weighing me down, a feeling I’ve carried around since I watched the terrible events play out on the news on Saturday morning.
It’s not unusual for me to shed tears when reading the news because the world is no stranger to this sort of violence. But the events in Paris have stayed with me longer and the shock has sunk deeper because, like so many others, Paris has had a special place in my heart for a long time. It’s not that I care more about people in Paris, it’s that it makes what feels like a bit of an abstract concept most of the time, bone-chillingly real.
Ever since my first visit, I have missed Paris every day. I’m not exaggerating, you can ask my boyfriend who humours my frequent suggestions for ways to speed up a move to Paris. I love Australia, but Paris was somewhere I instantly felt like I was home. Even when it was driving me crazy. It’s not perfect and it is certainly not paradise, but it’s somewhere that has challenged me and delighted me and surprised me more than any other place on earth. It’s because of Paris that I spend hours every week sweating the small stuff, conjugating verbs and fussing over the correct accent marks, while teaching myself French. It’s because of Paris that I have read scores of books about France, her history and her people. I do this not just because I love the language, the history and the culture, but also because I have planned (and still hold these plans) to make Paris my home in the future.
I know I’m hardly unique for feeling so strongly about Paris. Paris makes the world dream and has done for centuries.
It doesn’t make the loss of life in Paris worse than the loss of innocent life in Beirut, Kenya, Nigeria, Russa, Egypt, Syria or any of the other countries on the heart-breakingly long list of destinations where innocent people are suffering.
But it has made it feel more real than ever. I know what it feels like to walk down those streets and eat in those bistros and it is easy to put myself in those streets and imagine how it felt to be there that evening. Naively, I never imagined such atrocities happening in Paris, despite the many signs that the French capital could be a target. It is a place which invokes so much love that I couldn’t imagine it suffering from so much hate.
I am one of the lucky ones of, because I was not in Paris during those attacks and neither were my nearest and dearest. My friends who are in Paris are all safe. I can’t imagine the devastation that thousands of people are feeling, all over the world right now, after having their loved ones stolen by forces so evil. I am determined than ever to live a life full of love, creativity and generosity, to live a life full to the brim out of respect for those who have been robbed of the chance to do so. I think it is the most important thing that I can do.
I felt like I needed to share something beautiful today, because it’s one of the easiest ways to make the world just a little bit better. The world needs more of this every day, but particularly now.
Of all the beautiful places I’ve seen in the last couple of months, these photos of Central Park are the ones I want to share. For me, there’s no place more peaceful than somewhere surrounded by trees, and even looking back at these photos helps me feel more calm.
These photos were taken on my last day in New York. I was determined to see the Central Park Mall, the beautiful tree-lined walkway through the Central Park which features in so many films and television shows. I was disappointed to miss the golden autumn foliage by mere days (four, to be exact!), but I found a different kind of beauty in the glowing, bright yellow leaves juxtaposed against those which were still a bright, summery green. This beautiful palette of sunshine yellow and vibrant green was so full of life, I had to wonder why this fleeting transition isn’t celebrated more.
This is just one sliver of Central Park, but I decided to keep it to just this small section, because even this small slice is enough to put a smile on my face, and hopefully yours too. The boating lake is also very beautiful, you can see my photos from it here.
So here’s to an overload of beauty. Today, this is the best answer I can give. It’s natural beauty, but it’s natural beauty that was loving cultivated and protected by passionate people. People who made something beautiful free for all to enjoy in a city that is notorious for dividing between the haves and the have-nots. It’s a living legacy of the beautiful things people can do.
For breathing life into New York in more ways than one, here’s to the staggering beauty of Central Park.
Where is somewhere of outstanding natural beauty that you love?