When I moved back to Paris, almost three months ago, the lovely woman who accepted to rent me her flat asked me what I was doing to earn a living. It is always complicated for me to answer this question as I am more often than not doing several things at the same time, that nourish each other.
Mornings, I help children with special needs who try and learn in a really special place one street from the apartment. At the moment, I am mainly creating written media for them.
It is a few steps from the Esplanade des Invalides, and I can see the Eiffel Tower from my street (and from the upper floor)
Afternoons and week-ends, I do more cultural activities : I am collaborating with a European Spain-based publishing company to create a handbook for English-speaking persons with a desire to learn French, leading writing workshops, trying to finish a book on writing that I started years ago …
She seemed a bit scared and asked me whether « I was suffering »
In France, we have this tradition of « poètes maudits » : romantic poets who are doomed : they suffer a lot, are always close from madness, drink, smoke and do not live long.
To me, writing can be a healthy and vivifying activity : a way to share things you are grateful about, for instance. This is what Brenda Ueland explains in her amazingly inspiring book : If you want to write, that I have finished to adapt and that I am currently arranging.
Writing, for her, is a generous act : you have felt something beautiful, then you want to communicate it to others.
There are many ways to do so : painting, acting, dancing, playing music, just telling people the beauty of what you’ve experienced …
The reason why I woke up today with a need to write is because yesterday night, I have experienced a peak of ecstasy like I had not felt in a very long time.
For months, I had been doing way too many things for others : worked too much, did too many activities that I did not enjoy just to please others, had food and drinks that did not support me, just to « be nice », accepted invitations that I did not really feel like accepting, did not respect my biological needs … and well … same things as usual happened : I grew exhausted, depleted, frustrated, sad ; I put on weight … And I ended up hating everybody (myself first). That’s always the way it works.
So, for a few weeks, I had tried to support my body better : I did infra-red sauna once a week, fed on a vegetable and fruit fast, went back to exercising and walking outside once a day … and all of these things did help … But still, I had the feeling to be running on a treadmill, but the wrong way round. A sense of struggling and discomfort that was almost unbearable.
So, when I was invited to this concert on Friday night, after what I knew was going to be an incredibly exhausting week, I was both immensely grateful and deeply uncertain : « thank you so much, but is this reasonable? »
I decided to give it a go.
Just after my theatre class was finished, I rushed in the streets of Paris. I walked through St Germain des Près, Saint-Michel, La Sorbonne and the neighbourhood around the Pantheon. I arrived just in time in the Cathedral Notre Dame du Liban, which is a church that is next door to the Ecole normale supérieure, where I have studied cognitive sciences applied to éducation, last year. I had never noticed it. Sometimes, I live inside of my head, instead of inside reality.
My family was already there. The choir entered just after I came in. They started with traditional songs from Argentina. Then, the musicians arrived. I particulary noticed the bandeonist who was very beautiful, expressive, and incredibly talented. It was the first time I was hearing Bandoneon in a church.
I was already feeling extremely well and alive, among people I love, in such a beautiful place, listening to hard-working and talented people.
It was only the start. Then the Misa Tango began. It is a composition from the Argentinian musician Martin Palmeri who had the extravagant idea to create a mass sublimated by the sounds of tango.
It is partly because of this that I was not too sure whether I would enjoy my evening : it seemed very audacious to me. I am really classical in my tastes : I love the « messe en Si » from Bach ; it is my favorite mass.
I should write it was my favorite, because yesterday I felt emotions I had never felt before. (On the leaflet, I read that the the Misa Tango was the Pope Francis’ favorite mass)
The soprano, as soon as she started singing (it was always very short : not even one minute) made me feel all frozen with beauty, unable to move nor to think or anything else.
Emily Dickinson wrote : « If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way? »
This sentence came back to me this morning, when I woke up so eager for life and the heart full of beauty and gratitude, with the first pale sunrays … it made me want to write, to share what I so often forget : the need for the soul to be fed on things she (?) thrives on.
It is very good to eat well, to exercise, to do yoga, to read interesting texts and try and understand the world around us, but feeding the soul with what we love is so essential … I had times in my life when I was only doing things I loved. From dusk til dawn. I had then an endless energy. On the contrary, when I do things that I do not like, I am unable to do more than very little.
So, as I consider Easter as a time of death and rebirth, I want to let all the things that do not support me die and all the things that feel good and right come into my life again. It is my resolution for this new time of the year.
Thank you so much to the Vittoria Choir, Michel Piquemal, the soloists Sophie Hanne, Thomas Tacquet and Gilberto Pereyra and to the Pasdeloup orchestra.