The Jeanne Claude and Christo wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris has created a very typical response we have come to expect in the art world and on social media. Some love it and some loathe it. I am in the first camp but no one who knows me will be surprised by that. I think it’s marvellous. I love the shapes and the shimmering fabric and the red ropes. I wish I was there to see it in person.
But, of course there are so many condemnations online of this ephemeral work. (I’d love to know how many haters were putting locks on bridges a few years back…) I think people forget that many hated the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Pyramid when they were built. I am sure there were dissenters when the original arch was commissioned, and obviously many who don’t like the fact that it’s a war memorial.
I love the Arc de Triomphe as a monument. Covered or uncovered it is possibly my favourite Parisian monument. I mean, I love the Eiffel Tower… okay it’s a tie!
I’m always fascinated by the very human response of “This is garbage!” about anything that doesn’t make sense to us. I’m not sure when we lost the ability to say “I don’t understand but I’d like to.” My husband was never curious about art or history or ‘other places’ until he started travelling and noticed how much more enjoyable it is to know what you’re looking at, to have some understanding of why something is the way it is.
Remember, there is at least one 1-star review for Stonehenge…
I’m reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I read it when it came out about 18 years ago and read an abridged version – just the highlights – a few years ago. It’s a great book. I didn’t understood it at all when I first read it and looking at the reviews on Goodreads, I’d say plenty of other people didn’t get it either. A bit like watching the movie The Remains of the Day, reading the abridged version of The Power of Now helped me understand what the author was saying. (Holy crap, Remains of the Day is hard to read… Oh, ditto The Great Gatsby!! Watch the movie then read the book. It will make more sense.)
It boils down to this. You always have a choice. Right now, lockdowns, earthquakes, volcanoes, wall-to-wall bullshit in politics all over the world… we have the choice to accept the situation. Can we change the pandemic? No. All we can do is accept it and focus on finding joy where we can…
Okay, hear me out.
Can I change that the border 400 metres north of my house is closed? No. So I accept it. Apart from getting annoyed once or twice a week when I want to visit my mum or see a friend or have a cuppa with my sister, all I can do is accept the situation. So I do.
But there are two choices, you say? Yes, the other option is to change my situation. But then I have to be prepared to deal with the consequences of my actions. I could uproot my life and move back to Queensland and risk my business. I could sell my business and risk our future financial stability. I could leave my husband here to fend for himself… no, no I couldn’t.
I am not prepared to suffer the consequences! So I accept it.
It’s really that simple! I am really not sure which part of the book I didn’t understand all those years ago. I just wasn’t ready to hear the message! The book made sense but I didn’t.
When my first husband died I had a crash course in acceptance. Death teaches us about the impermanence of life and learning to accept a loss is crucial for the living. When I had my son, I was devastated that I couldn’t have a natural birth. Of course I could have chosen to risk his life and mine by choosing to try a natural birth but I chose my health and his over what I ‘wanted’ in the moment, even though a natural birth was something I craved.
Michael and I saw the Power of Now working in our lives a few years ago (after I’d read the abridged version. Thanks to my wonderful sister, Melissa, for the gift of that book!) We had been having a few dramas in our business and really felt like victims in the situation. We would also download on everyone around us about the situation and how hard-done by we were. Look, objectively, it was pretty terrible and our next step was to call in Police and Lawyers… I had also read Will Bowen’s Complaint Free World and we decided to try it. We wore the purple bands that come with Bowen’s book. We reminded each other to limit our complaining and focus on the Now.
Accepting doesn’t mean putting up with intolerable treatment. While we were mindful of complaining, we focussed on the joyful moments, made gratitude lists (they really work!!!) We set about making changes to those things we could control and within weeks the situation shifted completely. Within months our whole lives had changed. All through focussing on the Now and finding joy even in the painful moments.