“many people are so imprisoned in their minds that the beauty of nature does not really exist for them.” – eckhart tolle
the louvre is a beast.
not because of the sheer size and voluminous collection of art. not even because tens of thousands of people visit it each day.
the louvre is a beast because
most of the people who flock there
are never even really there.
more like robots with cameras working relentlessly
to capture a photo of each piece of art
so they can experience it later,
instead of seeing it now.
i witnessed this strange phenomenon in person yesterday,
in total shock and awe.
it’s now the morning after, and i am still processing it.
it's madness. complete madness.
this morning i am just sitting on the quiet deck
of the little parisian house where i am staying on the canal,
listening to birds, sipping coffee and nibbling a crossaint.
because i can’t go to another museum today.
because my brain is still settling down from it all.
i woke at 7
to be in line at 8
to be the one-hundredth or so person
through the door when the louvre opened
for the first hour, it was almost like having the whole museum to myself! heavenly.
i didn’t have a plan.
i wandered and found french sculptures and paintings.
at 10:30 i paused for a light breakfast at café richelieu.
by 11, the crowds were heavy.
i began my search for the sculpture, winged victory.
i found ancient egypt.
i found venus de milo.
i found cupid & psyche.
i found a thousand other
breathtaking works of art.
but not winged victory.
for some reason, i couldn’t find her yet.
(the louvre is massive)
(the crowds are brutal)
and it was already 2pm, somehow.
so i found café mollien on the second floor,
and got in line, and got a table.
i sat for a bite while looking out the window,
marveling at the fact that i was eating lunch
where the king of france once lived.
rested, fed and hydrated, i set out again, to find winged victory.
this time, i did.
she was shining in the light at the top of a staircase. i climbed the stairs,
and sat down on a marble bench to her left.
people – throngs of people, hundreds of them at a time – kept coming up those steps.
they saw her through their camera view finders,
snapped photos, and moved on.
rarely did anyone stop to look with their own eyes
for more than a few seconds.
it was so surreal.
i have been reading a lot about transformation on this trip – books by eckhart tolle and thich nhat hanh – and listening to pema chodron talks while i take my afternoon tea. they all say basically the same thing:
we have to be in our body.
we have to be aware and present.
we have to be able to witness our feelings,
to watch our mind and our thoughts,
and know what’s going on inside of us.
this is where the magic happens.
this is where transformation happens.
in our own body.
as i sat down at winged victory, i softened.
i closed my eyes, and felt my breath.
i brought awareness to my feet,
my nervous system
to my heartbeat.
when i began to feel present, i opened my eyes again.
slowly i let my gaze rest on the sculpture,
and lovingly moved it with awareness down her body,
and my own, at the same time.
for thirty minutes i sat there gazing at her.
the detail of her wings – what would it feel like to have wings? the delicate folds of her thin robe. the sumptuous beauty of a belly that is not flat but rounded, feminine, strong,
and so damn sexy.
a couple of times i felt emotion well up in my throat.
i think it had to do with a desire to be like her.
to use my own voice and wings, to announce a kind of victory, too.
her gorgeous left leg is extended behind her, and her right leg is stepping forward. her heart is lifted, her breasts are unashamed and beautifully forward. her belly is soft, full, and strong.
her wings, of course, are unfurled.
she is capable of taking flight,
yet firmly rooted in her body.
my heart broke open, and i wanted so much to move like her.
i wanted to be her
to have wings
to unfurl them
to take flight,
while remaining present
in my own powerful human body.
and then began to look around, kind of sheepishly.
there were hundreds of people photographing her, but i couldn’t find anyone else who was visibly moved by her. or even seeing without a viewfinder.
i searched the crowd with watery eyes to see if anyone, anyone, anyone was having even a little bit of an emotional experience, too.
not one single human being that i could see, out of hundreds that kept moving by.
i felt so alone.
and at the same time, so free.
grateful not to be completely imprisoned by my mind.
grateful not to be missing this beauty by trying to capture it in a camera, for later.
grateful for my body, for the whole sensory experience.
grateful to have eyes, to see.
grateful for my meditation and yoga practices.
grateful just to be there,
and in awe.
i went back to gazing at the work. i imagined how the artist who carved her might have felt. was he/she enraptured by slowly unveiling this beauty, and power? what must that process have been like? who carved her? what was their story?
then, i moved over to her right side. a different view, a similar emotion.
for another thirty minutes i sat, gazing.
from this side, more imperfections were visible,
including the buttressing necessary to keep her wings aloft.
it made me love her more.
because these imperfections made her feel even more like me - a woman who wants to spread her wings, but who can not do it all alone.
she needs support to keep those wings aloft.
just like me.
just like all of us.
there is a vision i have had several times – kind of like a daydream – in which hundreds of thousands of light-filled, love-filled, wise and beautiful women (and men too) are emerging from the darkness of the last several hundred years of history to shine their light. to eliminate violence, and eliminate abuse.
they do so with grace, illuminative words and actions, and fierce love.
they look just like her, in my daydream. like winged victory.
we look like her.
we are her.
i know this because yesterday i sat with her, intimately, for an hour,
while an un-awakened world walked by us and took snapshots.
i know her better now.
and she is me. and i am her.
she is all of us. and we are her.
winged. brave. victorious.
we are moving into light.
with love from paris,