Last night a friend and I attempted to get rush tickets to the Paris Opera Ballet's second to last night of Paquita, a ballet about a young gypsy woman in Spain during Napoleon's occupation who falls in love with a French military officer. We waited in the box office of the Opera Garnier, and me, being the five year old at heart that I am, could not get over how insanely beautiful even the box office of the place was. Paris is a gorgeous city; it's no wonder artists and writers come here to be inspired.
Nonetheless, by the time we had arrived, the rush tickets were the serious nosebleeders at 8 euros a pop, the kind of seats where you can't see the show, but simply hear it. Instead, we opted to see La Princesse de Montpensier (a fabulous period movie based off a, hell YES, short story written by Madame de Layafette...DAMN it feels good to love the 17th century) and grabbed dinner afterward.
Over dinner, we got to chatting about a lot of different things, but what struck me the most about our conversation was when she asked me "Do you feel like you have enough purpose in your life? What's your purpose being here?" To which I responded with a big long schpeal about feeling burned out and needing a break before committing the ultimate social suicide and throwing myself into a doctoral program. She backtracked and qualified her question, and stated she was curious about the here and now.
The here and now is a difficult concept for me to grasp. Maybe it's because I'm a planner and I like preparing myself for whatever may come. Or perhaps because I'm a crazy Aquarius and we just can't seem to keep our heads out of the clouds, something of which I am a particular victim.
But she had a good point in posing the question. I think the idea of purpose has a lot to do with my main question of "what now?," because for the most part, we are so focused on the goal at hand of attaining a diploma that we forget to really ask ourselves what we're doing and why we're doing it. Now that I'm here, and I don't have any "rat race" to run in, I feel liberated, but at some points, a bit lost. That's not to say that I don't have a purpose here, I have many.
I guess you could say I'm here because this has been a dream of mine since I was little; I remember listening to my parents read me the Madeleine series of books and wanting to learn French, being 11 and receiving my bilingual pen pal book as a Christmas present, and even seeing the movie Ratatouille and drooling over the opening sky shot of Paris. In short, French--the language, the country, the culture--is something intricately tied to part of my life's purpose, and it's the sort of passion and love that I know will push me through a grueling doctoral program, the sort of undying loyalty that will keep me happy and curious in academia as a researcher and teacher. I waited from the age of 5 to 14 to learn the language, and then I waited another 8 years to attain fluency, and now that I've finally reached it, it's almost an anti-climax. So what's my purpose here, my real main purpose?
I think at the heart of everything, my real main purpose is to learn how to live more in the present, to learn to enjoy what I've been given, to know it's ok not to constantly be on the "go" with meetings, classes, work, and depending on circumstances, to let the walls around my heart down for a while.
In short, my real main purpose is to learn to suck the marrow out of life for all it's worth, to learn how to live before I do the rest of my living, and to practice my French, while I'm at it.