I intended to go big with my Parisian Random Act of Joy. I really did. My wonky-wheeled suitcase was full of stationery, stickers and rubber stamps and I had visions of peppering the city in notelets left with love.
But then I got distracted.
Distracted by the spiced scent of incense in Notre Dame; distracted by the golden curves of the cellos in the quartier musique; and distracted by the quest for the perfect Parisian hot chocolate in every café we passed.*
In fact, it wasn’t until our dejected walk from the apartment to the metro on our last afternoon that I finally remembered to leave my solitary little note. Mon Dieu!
One note. Hardly peppering the city in love. But as I left the pink envelope peeping out amidst the secondhand books, I decided that one note was enough.
Yes, the Joyful Revolution celebrates giving to others but it also celebrates the joy of giving to ourselves. How can we possibly give anything of value when we’re overstretched, jaded or spent? And when we do give, whether it’s to a colleague, family member or friend, what are we really offering if we’re dispensing it from a place of lack?
I was recently likened (affectionately I hope) to a Stepford Wife and having never seen the film I watched it at the weekend. Taut bodies and perky breasts aside, there were a few similarities. It’s quite conceivable, for instance, that I have uttered the line: “I know I shouldn’t say it, but I just love my brownies” at some point in my life. And it’s pretty likely that I will use it again in the future too. What can I say? My brownies are good.
But looking at these women reminded me of the vision of perfection that I used to strive for. Robotically giving, giving, giving with little connection or return. I had programmed myself to think that this was the most generous way to be, but in fact it was miserly. No one was able to truly know me and I denied anyone the pleasure of giving to me. The giver’s biggest risk is that it’s all to easy to become a martyr. And no one likes a martyr.
So I’m happy that I was distracted in Paris; happy that I gave myself the gift of a wonderful time; and happy that I realised leaving my one little note was enough. Until next time. In which case I really am going big. Adorning the Eiffel tower in daffodils and crepe-paper fringe? I think so.
* Found in a hidden café near St. Paul, but still not quite as good as the homemade version to which I’m occasionally lucky enough to be treated.
It’s appropriate that my little note ended up nestled in books as today is World Book Day. If you’d like to be giving in an entirely non-Stepford Wife way, please leave a comment below with your best book recommendation for me and the other MMJ readers. I’ll pick one of the recommendations for the MMJ mobile library and send it to one of the comment leavers. The tobola will spin next Tuesday, 12th April.