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Perspective in a Paris Line-Up

By the time we make it to the Tour Eiffel, the sky is dark and the Tower is already ablaze with what seems like a million glimmering lights. It’s okay though, because I’ve planned it this way in my mind for at least a thousand years. I want my first look at the famous landmark to be at night.

The nighttime lights of Paris

The nighttime lights of Paris

It does not disappoint. It sparkles as brilliantly in life, as it has in my dreams. Seeing the Tour Eiffel standing gracefully in it’s Paris home is exactly how I’d imagined it to be, and it is beautiful.

The thing I hadn’t pictured in my mind’s eye however, is the long, snaking line-up of people waiting to take one of the 4 elevators to the top. Still, we are determined to stand at the summit of the Tower and take in the city lights of Paris at night.

We attach ourselves to the butt end of the line and settle in for a long wait. We amuse ourselves by observing the mass of tourists converged together upon this one space. There are huge Chinese tour groups oohing, ahhing and taking endless pictures, Italians gesticulating wildly in what seems like an argument, but of course isn’t, and endless masses of people from all over the globe. Observing the scene, it’s clear that Paris and the Eiffel Tower, truly are world class tourist destinations.

We are entertained by the older couple behind us, as they bicker about the line, the wait and whether it’s worth it or not. It’s good-natured though and I wonder what we will be like in 30 years time. After a few minutes, the husband decides to wander around taking pictures to kill time, and the woman (Marcy) deciding to kill some time of her own, turns to us for conversation.

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It turns out that she’s from Indiana and it’s her third trip to Paris. She’s resolved to find herself at the top of the Eiffel Tower on this visit, despite her husband’s obvious impatience with the line. In our hours together, she tells us about her kids, their careers and what it’s like to live in Indiana. When she finds out that we live in Seoul, she’s all ears, curious about what it’s like to live in Asia.

There’s a flash of mutual panic when we reach the entrance to the elevator and her husband is nowhere to be seen. Losing your spot after 2 hours in line is clearly not an option, so we hold her place while she finds her wandering man. Eventually, they reappear and to avoid the ire of the others in line, we wave our arms around and make a loud show of calling them back into place.

Perhaps this shared moment has created a small bond between us, because soon afterwards, Marcy tells me that she’d suffered from a stroke a few years earlier, and that yes, her recovery had been miraculous. Almost as if in explanation for her avid curiosity about our lives in Korea, she explains that since her near death experience, she has been filled with a powerful urge to experience as much as she can in the time she has left. She shares with me her desire to live in another country, to close up her known life and enter into the great unknown.

It’s as if any fear she’d had for the uncharted future had disappeared at the moment of her stroke. The terrifying experience hadn’t kindled her fear of death – rather it had stoked her desire for life.

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The problem, she confided, was that the stroke had impacted her husband in exactly the opposite way. Where she had expanded, he had contracted. The mere thought of potentially losing his wife, filling him with anxiety and worry. His impatience with the line hadn’t been about the wait; it had in fact, been about his worry for his wife. What if something happened at the top of the Tower?

Feeling super blessed at the top of the Eiffel Tower

Feeling super blessed at the top of the Eiffel Tower

And I was reminded again of the importance of perspective. Of how the exact same event could be read in completely different ways by two different people, and that ‘truth,’ and the ‘reality’ we inhabit, is always a matter of perspective and choice.

What do you think? Have you ever been in a situation where a “shift in perspective” changed everything?

34 Comments Post a comment
  1. Paris is beautiful from every perspective, but you’re right! There’s nothing like Paris when it sparkles! And boy does that tower know how to sparkle! *sigh* take me back!

    September 28, 2014
    • I’m so glad my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower was at night! We actually arrived just as they lit the Tower, so it felt really magical. 🙂

      September 29, 2014
  2. Ahh, I love Paris! We’ve seen it in a different light each visit, from pre-kids, to one baby, to two toddlers, which has caused us to look for different things to do each time, and every time it has lived up to our hopes. As to the line for the elevators, we have chosen every time to skip the line and take the 700 or so steps up, which has always been zero wait time and not as hard as it sounds, unless you are carrying a baby! You still get to catch the lift to the very top and back to the ground.

    September 28, 2014
    • Wow! 3 trips to Paris. I definitely hope to get back there one day soon. Kids must change your perspective on absolutely everything. 🙂 That’s a great tip! I didn’t even know that taking the stairs was an option…

      September 29, 2014
  3. I’ve seen so many pictures of the Tower Eiffel, but I have to agree that it looks especially magical at night!

    September 28, 2014
    • I’m guessing it must be one of the most photographed monuments in the world. I’m so happy my first glimpse was just as the Tower was being lit up. I wasn’t disappointed by it at all! 🙂

      September 29, 2014
  4. these are amazing photos!

    September 28, 2014
  5. Great shot! My shot is on Eiffel Tower too!

    September 28, 2014
  6. Beautifully done post… and I was just in the City of Lights recently. Thank you, your photographs put me back there!

    September 28, 2014
    • Thanks Jadi! It was a really lovely experience. 🙂 Ahhh, I so wish to be back in the City of Lights… we definitely did not spend enough time there.

      September 29, 2014
  7. Sha #

    Paris! Paris! Paris! Ahh, another city that I keep reading about, yours had a wonderful story to go with it.

    I had a change of perspective a few years ago too, when I was working crazy, stressful hours at my first job. Let’s just say that what happened made me realise life is too short to spend it working all stressed out.

    So I quit the job just after and I’ve tried to keep a better work-life balance ever since…:)

    September 29, 2014
    • Thanks Sha! I went through a similar thing a few years ago…lol…only my perspective shift went 180 degrees, and I decided I wasn’t meant to work at all. It was tough at the time, but that perspective change helped me create the life I wanted. Freedom, travel and “work” that isn’t tied to survival.

      You’re arriving tomorrow to Seoul? My sister is arriving tonight from Canada! 😀 It’s raining 🙁 but hopefully should clear up by tonight. Can you send me a message through my contact form at the top, so we can figure out how to meet? 🙂

      September 29, 2014
      • Sha #

        Lol, I wish I can do the same..haha..maybe someday I will be free of work and instead work for myself..hehe…

        Anyway, I’m flying tomorrow night so will arrive in incheon on 1st oct…:) hope the rain stops!!

        Will contact you soonest!! ^_^

        September 29, 2014
  8. Lovely night photos..Paris is truly a place for such beautiful night lights 🙂

    September 29, 2014
    • Thanks Indah! 🙂 Yes, Paris definitely is one of the best places for nighttime photos…but then again, daytime photos in Paris are pretty amazing too. 😉

      September 29, 2014
  9. incredible 🙂

    September 29, 2014
  10. So beautiful!

    September 29, 2014
  11. I think, on the reason why we love Paris, there’s a great impact that Paris is one many dream of. I know it’s a bit of a low reason why, but I really think it’s one of them. It’s like a most coveted place to visit for avid travellers. Love the story you shared. Such contrary perspectives of the husband and the wife. Did they stay put and continued?
    We climbed the top at nighttime too.

    September 30, 2014
    • I was amazed by how many tourists were all over Paris. It, and Istanbul were definitely the busiest cities for tourism on our entire trip! Really coveted, like you say. Hubby and wife really did have opposing perspectives and I often wonder what happened with them after that? Did they continue with life as usual? or did Marcy convince him to try something new? But yes, they did make it up to the top!! 🙂

      October 2, 2014
  12. I’m so glad you shared this; it’s perfect for this prompt, and brings something to the “top” of the posts that we all need to read … both for the photos, and the life lesson.

    October 3, 2014
  13. Kan #

    Beautiful story! I’m so glad you reposted it…

    October 15, 2014
  14. Sweet story for a thoughtful time of year. Did you mean to re-post this old entry? (Or is it new and mis-dated?) I’m glad you did because this must have been right before I started following you. Happy holidays and New Year!

    December 18, 2018
    • Shelley @Travel-Stained #

      Oh Lex… I’m in huge blog transition, migrating to, trying to monetize and updating old posts for SEO (which is how this ended up getting re-posted. Ha!) I hope to get myself organized enough soon to read everyone else’s blogs that I miss so much! Happy holidays and hope you’re well! 🙂

      December 24, 2018
  15. looks brilliant! Love it! Big cities look amazing at night!

    December 19, 2018
    • Shelley @Travel-Stained #

      They really do, don’t they Andy.

      December 24, 2018

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