In the times that I have visited Paris I have always found myself drawn to the Arc de Triomphe. What makes it special for me, perhaps more what fascinates me, is the fact that there are 12 avenues leading into the circle/roundabout that surrounds it. To make matters worse there are no road markings or lines indicating where cars should be or go. It is known as “Circle of Hell” to anyone who sits behind the wheel of a car, I normally go by foot, luckily for all other motorists on the road.
When you enter the roundabout or circle (depending which country you come from) you have to navigate yourself between the oncoming cars of which there is always a constant stream. I personally can’t begin to imagine trying to drive around there, not only because of my poor direction skills, but for the fact that I’d be staring up at the monument and the eternal flame that burns beneath it. Those who venture round the Arc de Triomphe do it by sheer instinct and adrenaline, some say the rush you get it is better than jumping out a plane or bungee jumping.
Such is life, we are the Arc de Triomphe’s of the world, we have avenues that lead to us and those that lead to others. There are no markings on the road that is life, we have to navigate by instinct and gut.
When we are born we are born with certain talents, some we grow into and some are more apparent than others. These are the avenues that lead to and from us, they are the constants in our lives, ones that we can choose to use or explore, ones that we can cultivate or ignore.
The trees that line the avenues are our core personality traits, they may be present from birth or we grow into them as we get older, they are there and they are who we are. They bring beauty to the avenues in our lives and they help us in the heat of the day, they shelter us from the rain. As we evolve the trees evolve, their branches may expand taking on different directions, but their roots are solid, they are our cores.
The traffic around the Arc de Triomphe is said to never stop, 24 hours a day it continues, as in life, it is a constant train of movement propelling us forwards. Sometimes there will be a crash a long the way, a bump and a scrape, sometimes there will be a road block or two, a lull, but it is always moving.
When we enter that circle of life that constantly moves around us, our destiny, there are no markings, no sign posts saying “Go here this will lead to certain success” or “Go here for love”. We travel around on our instinct and gut, an avenue that we take on the one day may lead us to the other, totally different one. It may lead us back to the rush hour traffic or it may lead us to the very centre, there are no road maps.
In life there are no sureties, no one can travel around that circle of life for you, no one can navigate that car but you. You are in the drivers seat and it is you that makes the decision as to which direction you drive. There are no right or wrong avenues, they all lead somewhere, it may be a new destination with new hurdles or it may be one you have taken before, it is your choice.
The only certainty in life is the eternal flame that burns under the Arc de Triomphe. There are times when the wind blows the flame, sometimes so hard that, when looking at it, we can become dizzy. Then there are times when it is just a small ember unto the ground and times when it roars into the sky. It burns.
That flame is our soul, it is constant and never goes out. Sometimes we feel the winds of life ripping at our clothes. At other times we feel so low that it feels as though we can’t bare to move, as if we lie flat on the ground, immobile. Then there are the times we are filled with such warmth that we feel as though we could soar like an eagle in the sky… The weather of life may try to put out our eternal flame but it is always constant, it stands through all four seasons, even when they happen all in one day.
There are no sure roads in life, there are no rights and wrongs, only us moving forwards in the best way we feel is right for us. Use the avenues that you have, if one isn’t working, try another avenue. There are no rules set out to say that you are only allowed one or two avenues, there can be a million if you so chose, try them out, explore.
When the traffic going around you seems too much to bear catch a bus for a few moments until the traffic eases and you have courage once more to venture into the thick of it.
When the eternal flame burns into the sky giving off warmth and happiness, bask in it for a few moments, treasure it and cherish it, for it is those moments that will pull you back when life gets all crazy.
The Arc de Triomphe building is ancient. It has weathered many a storm, witnessed the hottest of summers, been through both war and moments of peace, it even has a few cracks and dents, it is still beautiful, if not more so.
The Arc de Triomphe is who we are and the eternal flame is our soul, it forever burns within us…
Embrace it and love it for what it is… we are who we are… we are perfect as we are.