Sometimes I think about how I feel at a particular moment and reflect on whether I’d prefer to be somewhere else. It helps me gauge my progress in the spiritual growth department. The desired answer, ‘I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else under any other circumstances’, is often the case. But when it isn’t, when I’d prefer to be elsewhere, I think about how my plan to get there – and there are a number of ‘theres’ – is going. So far, I feel pretty good about making current circumstances pleasant and progressing toward my goal: living in Paris.
Unexpectedly, as I write these words my throat knots up and tears well in my eyes. I inhale deeply and look away from the screen thinking about the truth I have just written as tears stream down my face. I don’t think they’re tears of joy or of sorrow, but rather of an emotion, a recognition, bursting forth like lava from a roiling volcano. Have I crossed a psycho-emotional threshhold?
What choice, you wonder, prompted such a response? I stood in my living room admiring the Christmas tree, topped by a winged, female Spirit of Christmas carrying a small tree, and bedecked with ornaments, each of which embodies a treasured memory: visiting Moscow in 1992, a year in Bavaria in the mid-90s and my parents’ wintertime visit, painting ‘cookie’ reindeer, angels, and snowmen cut from plywood by my father when I was a child, miniature socks (red with white cuffs) knit by Grandmother Irene. Nightly, I light candles held on the tree by holders once belonging to the grandparents of my Swiss friend, Heidi. Yes, Heidi. And she does live in a charming chalet in a picturesque Alpine village, just in case you were wondering. Well, I compared that to my favorite urban place: the Luxembourg Garden. And I imagined returning on a typically dreary winter afternoon to the small rental apartment nearby where I lived last winter without a tree or anything to remind me of Christmas. And I had trouble deciding which I’d prefer. Then, I imagined my tree in a larger, nicer Paris apartment – my apartment – a situation so desirably perfect that I’ve decided thus it shall be. My heart gladdened at the thought of a future Advent at my place in Paris. Who will visit, I wonder?