Paris was the most anticipated destination of my life and one that was rooted so deeply within the realm of my dreams, I almost began to think I’d dreamt the whole thing up.
Since childhood I’d fantasized about this destination, this place I’d always imagined would signify something marvelous once reached, on more occasions than I could possibly count.
I’d probably put more thought into a twirling moment beneath the Eiffel Tower than I’d collectively dedicated to planning my life, which – when considering the insane amount of time and energy I’d devoted to the (perhaps) fruitless subject of planning life – says a lot.
The real-life vision of the worldly, iconic monument – which I’d marveled over thousands of times before in my mind – was just the reminder I needed to realize I’d actually made it to Paris, my long-anticipated, dream-like destination.
Except this time, viewing the Eiffel Tower from the backseat of a taxi, the visual wasn’t swirling around in my mind, eyes closed. My eyes were wide open, and I was in Paris. For real.
With hesitation I realized that my years of dreaming and fantasizing about Paris may have put me at high risk of developing a case of travel let down.
(I’ve found that, upon arriving to a new place, there is always this moment of fearful hesitation. This fear of disappointment is only enhanced when the lusty, dream-filled traveler has arrived to the destination they’ve been long anticipating, at which point their inner cynic points out every so gently: What if it’s not as great as you expected? Forget pick-pocketing and inhabitable accommodations. Disappointment is the greatest risk of travel.)
But as we meandered in and out of traffic, the Eiffel Tower’s wrought-iron structure in its grandiose entirety slowly coming into clear view, my dream-like expectations were washed away along with my doubts and fears. Taking their place was the greatest reward of travel: real, non-fictional awe.
My stay in Paris, as real as it was, was filled with the perfect amount of dream-like details. Paris exceeded all of my wild and lofty fantasies. It’s a city where the architecture is subtle and beautiful, the colorful parks are never ending, the macaroons are soft all the way through, the crepes are authentically, beautifully delicious, the language is inspiring to muse over, and the way of life is one that just feels… great.
There are so many amazing things to fall in love with in Paris, which in my case, might just include a single French word – voila! – as well as feet dipping in fountain at the Louvre.
Already long in love with the Eiffel Tower since childhood, I was surprised to find myself falling even more in love with it as I stood before it. The Eiffel Tower, as magnanimous as it is today, also has a story that will break your heart (and then make you love it more).
As it turns out, the Eiffel Tower – which is now the most iconic building in the entire world – wasn’t actually intended to be a permanent structure in Paris. That’s right. The Eiffel Tower, which was built for the 1889 Expo, was pre-scheduled to be demolished twenty years later.
Not only that, it was also hated. Yes, hated.
To my surprise I learned that it was the most poetic of Parisians – the writers, the artists, the sculptors, and the architects – who opposed the Eiffel Tower the most, even forming a petition against its construction.
Can you imagine?
An illustrious, romantic, iconic, poetic, globally-lusted-after structure that began its life being hated by the most creatively-sound of the time.
They were outraged. They figured this ‘monstrous’ building would tower over the existing Parisian landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, ruining Paris forever, or at least for twenty years… little did they know.
Obviously they were wrong, and certainly the Eiffel Tower shouldn’t feel threatened by these premature, factless opinions. Surely the late poets who opposed the Eiffel Tower would feel silly in their premature accusations, if only they knew how it had turned out. (And if only they knew how it had actually assisted in guarding France against invasion by the Germans at one point in history).
But that’s just it. That’s life. Even the most magnificent of structures capable of achieving greatness will be judged and criticized before they’ve even been built. Before they’ve even had a chance to shine.
That’s the story of the Eiffel Tower, which – when compared to our own lives – isn’t too far off. We might just find that our own life is the same way. We might just see ourselves in the story of the Eiffel Tower, and we might just be reminded to thank the hands that built us – the people who believed in us.
We might just remember to continue standing strong regardless of the skepticism thrown our way, and if we make it through our early struggle, we might just find a brilliant future awaiting us.
With time, we might just discover that – like the Eiffel Tower – our existence is not only noticed, but idolized and loved. If we’re lucky, we might just acknowledge that our own existence is much more than worthwhile.
And it sparkles, too.