Balance. We are told to live a life of balance, but you may have noticed… finding that balance is harder said than done.
We arrived in Paris by Eurostar. It is surprising how you get used to travel at 180 mph. You look out the window, oblivious to the speed, until another train (also speeding along at 180 mph) passes you going in the opposite direction. You feel a vacuum so strong that you expect to be sucked out of your seat and teleported to another planet.
If you have seen Kansas, you can imagine the landscape north of Paris. For the most part, the land is flat and intensively farmed. The harvest season is over, and today tractors were tilling the soil in geometric squares. There is no need for contour plowing. All is as linear as a patchwork quilt in shades of tan and gold and Crayola green. Dust rises behind the tractors. 21st century wind turbines labor in the distance.
We arrived in Paris hungry and thirsty. Perhaps we needed a beer or a glass of wine at an outdoor bistro. Quenching our thirst, we talked of how fit the pilgrimage would leave us. Why… by the end of the pilgrimage, we would be slim and trim – maybe ten years younger.
And then we looked at the menu. Perhaps something light. A salad maybe?
The fact that I ate a huge helping of frites, beef, and salad but I felt no g
uilt is a bad sign. I was off-the-wagon and the wheels of the wagon had rolled over and muddied my hair-shirt. So much for high-mindedness and portion-control. Perhaps you have noticed (I can’t believe I’m alone in this) that once you’ve lost the moral high-ground, you may as well throw all caution to the winds? Such was the case with me. I capped off my light lunch with creme brulee and coffee and cognac. So much for balance. So much for yin and yang.
You would think that growing up Lutheran and living in the shadow of Hope Lutheran church, I would experience some guilt. Not so.
If the pilgrimage to Compostela de Santiago is supposed to help me “live in the moment,” I have already achieved my goal! Fo
llowing our “light lunch,” we decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower. A little exercise would balance things out. It was a long walk. My stomach trailed behind on a rope tied round my waist.
Standing at a distance, you look at the 1,063-foot high Eiffel Tower and it appears to be light as air -a filigreed spun-sugar topping for a birthday cake. Who would think that a mere tourist attraction built in 1887 would still be standing today? But if you stand beneath and look up, the 18,000 iron struts and 2.5 million bolts give you an appreciation for the engineering. Gustave Eiffel, the reknowned bridge builder, knew what he was doing.