Its amazing how many times the word grateful can be redefined.
Sitting in my small, dollhouse apartment with people I’ve come to feel so close within such a short period of time as we booked flights and day trips to Dublin, Madrid, and Belgium, laughing over wine and home cooked meals, is a very prominent one of those times. I refined it then as appreciation and acceptance. I refined it as Right Now, as never trusting too much in the future, and, most importantly, as someone recently asked me:
“Aren’t you glad that it’s right now?”
More recently, one of those times has been stepping onto the ground of Versailles. Looking around at the countless gold etchings, the seemingly bellowing towers, and the waves of people descending the steps from the ticket counter, I wondered why I had a tight feeling in my stomach. I was frustrated with myself by only being able to react with simple sentences like “This is beautiful,” or “I’m speechless”, or “I don’t know what to say”, because, in fact, I really didn’t. In that moment I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to react to my questioning of how many people have stepped on the same cobblestone before me, how many people have called this town and country and continent home, or how many people have simply left a mark on this long stretch of land. It was overwhelming, it was curious, and it was extremely beautiful.
Making our way into the Château and looking up, I, like many others around me, seemed to need to take a moment to catch their breath. The first impression was simple: Marble. Marble floors, marble panelling, marble statues. Of course, with time, the Château has been converted into something more a museum, where you can make your way down the hallways accompanied by panelling of information, history, and descriptions. But even without them, you feel as though you’re being swallowed whole. The shoulder-to-shoulder interactions with the people around me was, for the first time, not bothersome. There was a sudden sense of wholeness, a wholeness where everyone felt for a moment as if they were given the opportunity to step into a piece of history themselves. Photos can show so much, and they can be an incredible, physical representation of what has been done. But, after being in France for a little over a week, I’ve found that the feeling that these places leave you with are far more impressionable. And Versailles makes you feel like royalty, and it makes you feel so perfectly small.
Then, I redefined grateful as curiosity.
I’ve been told countless times that, inevitably, everyone is a sum of their experiences and the people that they meet. And, if that’s the case, then everyone I’ve met and everything I’ve done has been one, continuous, curious unfolding. One where I’ve found myself questioning how I got where I am, what led me there in the first place, and how long I’ll be lucky enough to stay.
Feeling alive is to feel anticipation, to feel possibility, and to feel curiosity about just how much there is to see. And, right now, I’m curious, and grateful, that I’m feeling so much.