Crowds & Solitude of Paris

When we wandered, or I should say, when we vigorously walked the streets of Paris, I was fully aware of being in the line of so many photographers that I thought when we came home I should do a post asking for all who had my likeness in their photo to connect with me.
Everywhere we went we were not only taking photos ourselves, we were crossing the path of others clicking or videoing.  We saw the most selfie sticks per capita in Paris of any city we visited.  Pictures, so many pictures, were taken.  Am I in yours?

Although I am probably an extra in many pictures I will never see, I am not able to post the photos I have which have other people's likeness in them.  Writer and photographer, Sean Rocha, explains the nuances of French law prohibiting posting of peoples' images even if taken in public spaces.  If you want to see weird photos of Paris without any people in them, go to Paris travel guide. Otherwise, keep reading and you will have to settle for people-less photos and descriptive words.

It was busy in Paris, the weather was cooperative, the service was Parisian, and the tourists were like locusts.  For a few days, we joined the plague of locust, descending en masse at one highlight destination after another.  I have very few photos without people in them.  One of my favourite photos is of a bridge crowded with people.  It was a metal structure that crossed the Seine.  It was ornate, old, and rusty. There was a stone walkway running underneath the bridge along the river's edge.  One man was standing on the walkway, alone, facing the water.  I took the photo because I liked the bridge structure and the juxtaposition of the stream of humanity crossing on top and the lone individual beneath.

Paris 2017
What I saw wasn't a photo but a glimpse of how humans live.  Many scurry with the crowds across old tired bridges, day after day, feeling safety in numbers but reaching their destinations feeling lost, lonely, and empty.  Others step onto paths less traveled, places where the known sites are less easily identified, where the busyness of the crowd drops away.  Sometimes it is fun to be in the crowd, heading to the next exciting event or site.  The crowd can be a source of energy with so many different faces looking back at you and the constant electricity of movement.  But sometimes the crowd can squish the life out of you.  One just needs to recognize when it is time to step off the busy path and seek a peaceful spot.

Are you good at knowing when you need the crowd and when you require solitude?  Don't think of crowds as just masses of people.  Think of crowds as anything that squeezes out or overruns the space you need to think, to enjoy beauty, to revel in nature, and to breathe.  I told you I needed space to breathe a few weeks ago. To breathe, according to, means to pause, to live, to move gently. For a few weeks, we alternated between moving and pausing, we found a rhythm that allowed for glimpses of beauty and room for ideas. I tried to move gently with myself and with others, leaving space for living and seeing.

And it worked.  Even as we traipsed with the tourist crowds, I found time to spot stories and to lift my eyes to flying buttresses. One thing I will remember about Paris, is how they made something ugly like a building under renovation, beautiful. The cranes were silhouetted against the sky. The scaffolding peaked out. But the building was wrapped in a picture. It was no longer just a construction site, it had become a piece of art. I had noticed and in the noticing, I breathed. All I had to do was keep noticing, keep breathing, and remember to move off the crowded bridge deck frequently enough that ideas, creativity, and joy were allowed elbow room.   Are you moving off the bridge deck and out of the crowd of life often enough to lift your eyes and see the beauty?