Sometimes I see things that inspire me, and in these moments I want to capture the good things they make me feel. Maybe this is why I take so many photos on holiday; the sights, the sounds, the smells of all the amazing places I am lucky enough to visit bring me such joy, and I just want to capture that.
Often, these moments of inspiration come to me through the written word. As you may know by now, I am a total bookworm. A novel nut. A magazine fiend. I love reading other people’s writing and finding little gems of inspiration in their words. I constantly cut segments from newspaper and magazine articles; I am a chronic folder of the pages in books I’m reading... I copy things down to commit them to memory.
On a recent girl’s weekend in Paris, my friend Trelise and I made our way to perhaps my favourite spot in this beautiful city; the stunning and much beloved rickety old bookshop Shakespeare & Co. If you ever go to Paris and haven’t yet had the delight of visiting, DO. It’s on the banks of the Seine, right across from the Notre-Dame, so easy to fit in amongst all the touristy stops.
During our visit, Trelise told me something I didn’t know before – she told me about the open door policy for all “tumbleweeds.” In the bookshop’s own words:
Where there is a sliver of space amongst the many corners of this old place, there are futons, benches and makeshift beds which serve as nooks for visiting readers by day, and a place to briefly call home for wandering travellers by night. By one such bed, the walls and surrounding low ceiling were COVERED in small notes from these such tumbleweeds who have stayed. Notes written on Metro tickets and serviettes, scraps of paper and the back of photos. What started as a curious glance turned into an hour and a half of complete immersion in hundreds of little moments of beauty. These are people caught right in the midst of their love of books, of the beauty of Paris, of the magic of travel, and of the new perspective gained from all three.
There’s something about Paris... I know how to describe it. I don’t even know what it is, really. It inspires in a way no other place I have ever been. It makes people see things and feel things and express things they wouldn’t, or maybe even couldn’t otherwise, and this little corner in Shakespeare & Co. is where people turn them into words. It was one of the most magical things, sitting there surrounded by the beautiful moments of all these strangers’ lives... Sitting there reading these, I’ve rarely felt more connected to people I don’t even know. Here are some of my favourites.
"Dear Paris, Someday I will be somebody's person and I will bring him back to you."
"Paris, you have been so good to me. I found a home in this book shop, in these pages, in this city. This life we live is limitless. Thank you for opening my eyes to all the possibilities, all the pathways I could take. My heart is full. Jephthah, if you're reading this, I am already in love with you."
"And, if I die tonight, I'll be happy. Happy because I've always been one of them, the ones who live. Just because without reading, is like a life without living."
"If you are here, there is no reason to worry about anything. You're in Pars, enjoy life!"
"Be [with] someone that makes you happy."
"Books are the proof that humans can make magic."
"Life needs to be lived so that even 10 books wouldn't be enough to tell about it."
"That moment doesn't exist anymore - but let's find no need to mourn it. Let's be in now - let's watch the colors of humans love and humans cry and humans be."
"As long as there are books and coffee in the world, how bad can things really be?"
"Paris is never a bad idea."
"Dear Paris, Thank you for teaching me how to appreciate the world around me. I am no artist, but you make me feel like one. You inspire me. You move me. You love me, and I love you. I'll be back again someday."