Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Is the Grass Really Greener in Paris?

On July 4th, my nephew and I saw a movie while the rest of the family golfed. I chose “Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen’s new movie, because it was at the local theatre with the best popcorn. While a bit sentimental, the film still held a lot of charm in the way it demonstrated the age-old illusion people have that a life different than theirs would somehow be better.

The movie’s main character, a writer, “time travels” each midnight to his idea of the golden age: 1920s Paris. He rubs shoulders with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso, Hemingway, Dali, Gertrude Stein and others. These excursions are his escape from a wholly unsatisfying life as a Hollywood screenwriter to a romantic, creative era more conducive to the arts and writing.

He meets an alluring woman during one of these late night adventures. She finds 1920s Paris boring and is looking for her own golden age, which turns out to be the 1880s in Paris, the age of Gauguin, Rousseau, Degas and Monet.

In the end, he realizes he’s the architect of his present; he can make it whatever he wants it to be. He breaks up with his fiancé and stays on in Paris to write his novel.

It’s only human to want something better for ourselves. And I don’t think that’s wrong. What gets us in trouble is thinking that the “something better” exists elsewhere. It’s always within reach because the something better is in us, right there for the taking.

Yes, writing my novel at a little cafe in Paris sounds idyllic, but it’s also expensive. I kind of like that I can find inspiration right here in little Durango at one of the many little coffee houses.


  1. Sometimes I find myself wanting to time travel to 1920s Paris so that I could write with the greats, but then I realize they probably wouldn't like me much anyway.

    You're right in thinking that we get in trouble when we strive for a better something elsewhere instead of working with what we have. There's a lot of missed opportunities to be had when you think like that.

  2. Hmmm. I like to make collages, do photography, write, read, and i lose myself in all of it no matter what medium. But i do notice a different flavor between the real and the pixellated. When working with tangible materials that i can smell, see in 3-d, hold, hug, lift up, turn sideways, my whole body feels in it, and it feels romantic and goes deep. i like pixels for the convenience, but the mind-body connection isn't there. i feel heady and don't feel as satisfied afterward. Just doesn't seem to penetrate in all the right spots like the real stuff. So i'll miss holding and especially smelling paper books when they get left behind on the speedy highway of advancing technology. Mainly I feel sad thinking the kids are going to miss out on all those mysteriously meaningful sensations that hint at some goodness in ourselves. Charlotte