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Posts Tagged ‘Eiffel Tower’

Sometimes, you just need a change of perspective…

The Eiffel Tower has long been known as grand and romantic, a symbol of France. Back in college, I was astounded to learn that, having been commissioned for the 1889 World’s Fair, the tower had never been intended to remain. As seeing this legendary icon had become the top of my bucket list, I feared it could only disappoint. And then there it was. Big and majestic and beautiful and certainly no more than a twenty-minute walk from our current location. Little did we realize just how big the tower truly was. What looked so close was actually a good hour’s walk away.

By the time we reached it, my feet were literally bleeding. One popped blister, two average-joe blisters, and one blood blister completely obliterated my ability to stand up long enough to take the iconic, long-distance photo of my dearly sought-after tower. So instead, as we half-teetered in line for the elevator, I snapped a photo upwards–catching the iron latticework in all of its true glory. And I realized that this was the photo I wanted. Not the photo the rest of the world would care about, perhaps, but the photo that would remind me of the hard, detailed, inspired work and the massive scale of my beloved tower. Then, together with my sister, I piled into two over-crowded elevators to get to the top of one of the world’s greatest structures. The view was breathtaking–whatever the guidebooks say.

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Before leaving for France people said all kinds of things. That the locals were rude, the sights overcrowded, the streets dirty, and the gelato good. I could have expected that France. Instead, I found my own France. Sidewalks with street-musicians. A collection of food trucks where we were the only foreigners. Locals down by the water playing hopscotch and strumming guitars. Streets far cleaner than New York City. Gorgeous architecture. Friendly people. A collection of shops and Starbucks and affordable eateries in my favorite neighborhood. And, yes, the gelato was good, but it was nothing compared to the fresh strawberries we bought on the Rue Cler. Paris became my own.

I could have felt disappointment in missing my long-distance shot of Gustave Eiffel’s greatest feat. I could have felt disappointment in getting only one scoop of gelato. I could have fought for the Paris I had heard about. Instead, I found the Paris that mattered to me.

The understandable tendency, when we miss out, is to feel disappointment, but the last few weeks have given me a different perspective. Of course, there is the part of me that wants to fight for the me that could have been without Lyme’s Disease: a fiddler, a missionary, a gymnast, a businesswoman… Instead, I have decided to revel in the me that is. Just as I chose to celebrate the close-up shot of the Eiffel Tower, I choose to celebrate the path I walk. It may not be the iconic life of our favorite characters on television, but it’s mine and it’s profoundly beautiful. Now, having set aside any kind of modern standard, I am thankful for the strange, yet powerful role I play in this world. As I continue to learn about myself, I have a new appreciation for the way God directed me. The passion developing for writing students, the creativity seeping out in play-dates with my nephews and in my novels, the true friendships now returning from across the globe… It’s all because my life didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Praise God for that.

Sometimes you just need a change of perspective.

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“Excuse me. Is your name Jessie Mae? Are you the author of those books?”

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My days of stammering and stuttering when I feel so flattered are apparently behind me, because, even with a giant case of jet-lag and a time-crunch that would usually have debilitated my mind, I managed to have a decent conversation with the stranger/fellow author at my nephew’s kindergarten graduation. I loved walking into my old school to be greeted by a giant hug from Younger Nephew (who apparently missed me), a warm reception from a dear friend (whom I had missed), and a vibrant narration of the school year’s events by Elder Nephew (during the graduation slideshow).

 

This is home. And if I’ve learned anything on my trip, it’s that I belong here. Taking a step back, I have seen the impact I have here in my small town life and the impact the people in my small town life have on me. And I’m truly grateful.

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The people I met and the experiences I had overseas are as vast as they are significant. My toes were dipped in the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and the Red Sea. They reached the top of the Eiffel Tower, climbed the Arc de Triomphe, tread wIMG_4487here Moses tread on Mount Nebo, strolled through Notre Dame, and walked almost every inch of Paris. My taste-buds experienced Syrian food, French french fries, and Turkish coffee, while my mind interacted with people of all kinds in all places and my eyes saw the Mona Lisa and Monet’s Water Lilies and Venus de Milo. And as for my body, it has been trapped on a Metro, trapped in an elevator, trapped on an airplane, and trapped on a camel heading for a swim–just to name the tame parts of my trip.

 

All of these experiences will become a part of me. But so will the experiences of home. People have already started asking me what my next adventure will be. And my answer? Life. Just regular old life. For perhaps the first time, I’ll turn my eyes of wonder onto the world that’s nearby and see everyday as an adventure. For a girl who has never done things traditionally in her life, I think that ordinary life has some pretty big surprises in it for me to uncover.

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Not everything we think will be big will turn out big; but some things we think of as very small can turn into huge deals. Take the Eiffel Tower.

Sure, it was created to be a spectacle. But  critics, according to my art class textbook. likened it to an oversized, ugly chimney. Gustave Eiffel himself thought it would just be temporary, merely an exhibit for the Universal Exposition in Paris. Nevertheless, the Eiffel Tower lasted, grew in popularity, and remains a landmark of France and Europe well over a hundred years after its erection.

The Eiffel Tower is a part of movies, culture, and literature. Even I have even written about it in my new novel, Mark of Orion, though the scene might get left on the cutting room floor. Gustave’s brainchild was never meant to grow into such a landmark. Its critics doubted it; its designer limited its purpose; but in the end, the Eiffel Tower turned out to be a wonder that was destined to last.

Pondering this makes me wonder about some parts of my own life. The books I write and publish may be the successes I envision, or not, or they could defeat even my unrealistic projections. Or it could be the mentorship programs or the cookies I bake that really touch lives. The point is, life never comes out the way we think it will. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Imagine if the Eiffel Tower really had been taken down after its place in the Universal Exposition… Imagine if Gustave Eiffel had not dared to defeat his critics. Post-college adventure? Bring it.

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