It’s been 2 weeks in Paris now and I have really enjoyed getting into a routine and feeling like Paris is my home. While I have learned a lot about French culture, something in particular that I have noticed is the great importance of sitting.
This may sound a bit weird, but hear me out. Although Parisians are always on the go and speed-walk in every direction, you will always find that when they take a seat, they are still and calm without a care in the world. I have even noticed pairs of Parisians that sit together, people watching, without saying a word to one another, something that would be considered weird and awkward in America.
They have mastered the art of taking a moment to live in the moment.
Whether you are sitting at a cafe sipping on your espresso or having dinner at 9 o’clock like they usually do, you will notice that their hyperactive attitudes from the morning commutes have evaporated into the air along with the smoke from their cigarettes. It’s so unlike American culture where you are constantly on the go but rarely take a moment to just sit. Everything is about the fast options being the better options, fast food, quick coffee orders, and even rushing your waiter to bring the bill so you can leave as quickly as possible. In Paris, all of this would be considered rude or unnatural. For example, a waiter would never dare to give you the bill unless you asked for it and having a coffee with someone can be a day-long event.
However, this sitting mantra isn’t just for coffee and diner, there is also a whole section of Parisian sitters that take advantage of the quaint parks and edge of the river. In every park you will see people just sitting staring out into the distance, tanning, reading a book or sketching. I am amazed by this importance of just taking a moment to sit, because it’s something I have always wanted to do but never actually done. Back home I would love to take a break in between classes to read or draw but instead, I feel pressured to do homework.
So this week I decided to live the Parisian way and just sit.
I went to the Luxembourg Gardens and wrote in my journal, then just sat there thinking about where I was and listening closely to my surroundings, like the sound of people’s steps on the gravel paths or the kid that was dragging around the chairs to resemble a theater. For once I was in the moment and conscious that I was living my dream of living in France.
The next day I woke up early before class and went to the cafe near my apartment for breakfast. I sat on one of those traditional wicker bistro chairs with the small circular tables. I watched as people walked by and delved into the Parisian tradition of people watching. I found it so oddly entertaining and calming… Maybe it was their incredible outfits or just the warm chocolate croissant I had by my side, but at that moment I felt at ease.
I never thought the importance of sitting would be what I would learn from this trip, but I am grateful for it and hope to take it with me back home.