Is it possible to enjoy leisure while surrounded by thousands of tourists?
This is something I found myself wondering this past week while in Paris. Miss German, Miss Clevenger, Mr. Schultz, and Mrs. Stone wrote thoughtfully about ways to quietly enjoy leisure, by yourself or with your family. But what about when you are visiting a new location where you are a total stranger and fighting to survive? Can you enjoy leisure there as well?
Leisure actually came easily during my time in southern France. Surrounded by consistently beautiful views, interesting people, and a plethora of historic buildings I remember thinking, "This is what leisure is."
But my journey up north to Paris was something a bit different. Miss Clevenger and I often found ourselves standing with hundreds of people who were snapchatting and taking selfies while in front of various sights. Two natural attitudes are to join the crowd in using the visit to show others what an interesting place I've been to or simply to leave without appreciating the place ("I'm not interested in taking selfies, so this place must not be for me").
At Notre Dame, however, Miss Clevenger and I took a different approach. Struck by the incredible beauty of the huge church, we walked around the outside, taking it what we were able. We then stopped and chose a few scenes to focus on. Who are these people? Why are they depicted here on the church? Deciphering, wondering at, and appreciating these portions of the building, we viewed and discussed, continually in awe of the magnificent building in front of us.
The people didn't matter for a moment. I was no longer even tempted to take a selfie or to walk away. In stopping, amidst the continual swarm around us and rejecting the idea that we need to stay busy to be happy, we allowed the art to take us outside ourselves. This is leisure.