I could feel my heart swell with joy as the train got underway, slowly gaining speed out of Reims bound for Amiens. I had tried to reserve on the TGV, France’s famous 265 mph train, but on a Friday, alas, it was sold out. It must be people like the man we met yesterday, who works up here in Champagne but lives in Paris, connected to his city life via the TGV.
But I was happy to have a seat on the Ter, the regular service, slower train that stopped at many small villages along the route north to Amiens. My final destination was Arras, near France’s newest and shiniest high profile museum, the Louvre Lens. Many of the treasures stored for years in Paris have been brought to this sprawling 500,000 square foot building created at the site of a former coal mine in this small depressed northern town in Pas-de-Calais.
But my heart did swell with joy as a song I loved came on the iPhone, and I got caught up listening, thinking about where I was, and anticipating the journey. I could feel nothing but joy, and nothing but that exact moment. I strive so often in my life to just be, to savor, and taste and experience everything around me….and at that moment my heart was full. I was in my favorite country, anticipating a new destination, and taking great pleasure in what was happening right here right now.
I wanted to email my friend Jim Neil who turned me on the music that was so great, by the band Poolside. I wanted to email my travel writer buddy, Janis Turk, who shares my love of travel and wrote an essay about how she used to look longingly at pins on a globe, wanting to visit each and every one. I wanted to reach out to my partner, Mary, and tell her about how much I want to sign up for Home Exchange and try to find a way to come here next year, and stay for a month. Find someone to live in our house while we live here in this fabulous country.
What a joy to be in the moment to feel the absolute power of travel, to be enlightened and engaged and best of all to be able to share the feelings with the world. I am a simple man with simple desires–and my heart was full that moment.