Les Deux Salons -- a French Bistro in Covent Garden (Photo by Les Deux Salons)
The Power of Positive Thinking, the Now and the Eurostar
Monday, September 7, 2015 • Paris, France
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
Eckhart TolleThe Southbank Centre - LondonThe Play That Goes Wrong - LondonThe British MuseumBP Awards - London
After almost two weeks of resting in bed with a virus that simply wouldn't let go, Doctor B., who has been my doctor and friend for more than 20 years, said, "Go to London as you planned. It will do you good to change your venue, even if you have to take it slow and rest in the hotel some of the time."
She was right. By some miracle and the positive thinking she incentivized me. By Saturday afternoon the heavy weight of the illness lightened and it wasn't as difficult to pack as previously thought. My traveling companion was thrilled she wasn't going alone and here I am writing all about it instead of wallowing in bed and self-pity.
The reason for the trip was planned six months ago to spend just one hour hearing and seeing author and guru, Eckhart Tolle speak at the Southbank Centre tonight here in London.
If you don't know who this unusual German man is, you should. He wrote the best-seller books "The Power of Now," "A New Earth," "Stillness Speaks" and a myriad of other spin-off books (audio and video, too), touted by Oprah Winfrey among others, that are designed to enlighten us into living in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or fearing the future.
Tolle writes that "the most significant thing that can happen to a human being is the separation process of thinking and awareness" and that awareness is "the space in which thoughts exist." Tolle says that "the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." (wikipedia.org/wiki/Eckhart_Tolle)
Long before Oprah got her hands on The Power of Now, a close friend and mentor introduced me to his concepts. That effectively changed my perception of life and therefore my life. Not everyone gets it, or can actually put these concepts into practice, but those who can have the ability to be transformed...and as Tolle would say...'enlightened.'
This may sound like a lot of new-age nonsense, but don't criticize it till you've tried it. Read The Power of Now and decide for yourself. Tonight will be a thrill just to have one brief hour of hearing the words from his mouth in person, rather than the words on a page or on an online video or audio tape.
The trip to London is so easy it's ridiculous. Thanks to the Eurostar high-speed train and the Chunnel (the ‘channel-tunnel’ that lies beneath the English Channel, connecting England to France), one can be swept away from central Paris (Gare du Nord) to central London (St. Pancras International) in about two hours 20 minutes. The boarding is a 'piece of cake' thanks to bar-coded tickets and customs that verify your passports going out of France and into England within steps of one another.
It's been too long since visiting London, so long that the population of French living there now has multiplied many fold. It is said that London's population of French is about the same as the population of France's third largest city -- Lyon. There are about a half-million French living and working in London now, making it one of the largest populations of French living anywhere outside of France.
The reasons? According to Euronews, it's a place to find a unique job, a great place for multi-national families, there are artistic opportunities, it's easy to be 'different' and anything is possible. One reason not listed is how easy and inexpensive it is to go back and forth to France...thanks to the Eurostar and the Chunnel. That's the biggest plus of all.
The French influence and the French are everywhere. They can be heard speaking in their native language at every turn. I found myself speaking French to waitstaff in bistros with French names like "Les Deux Salons" ordering such fare as "Salade Niçoise" and "Crab Mayonnaise." And they are not all young -- the French of every age have discovered London as a haven for opportunity to earn a living and tax 'avoidance' (not tax 'evasion').
Our two days in London are not designed with only Tolle's talk on the agenda. This was an opportunity to see good theater (isn't London's the best?), although Sunday evening isn't the most ideal time as most plays aren't playing. Our best available choice was "The Play That Goes Wrong" at the Duchess Theatre in the "West End", but it was clever, hilariously funny and a bit of old fashioned slapstick...well worth the price of the tickets for a big hit of British humor at its best.
London rivals Paris on the museum scene with scores of both major and minor galleries. The British Museum, famous for its collection of Egyptian mummies, has a special exhibit of "The Waddesdon Bequest, A Rothschild Renaissance," rather buried in Room 2A behind the gift shop, but filled with the Renaissance treasures collected by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild MP (1839–1898) in a beautiful display. It was all we needed to see to feel satisfied (plus, for shoppers, the gift shop is one of the finest).
Rarely do I miss a trip to The National Portrait Gallery when in London, and this visit has been no different. "Audrey Hepburn, Portraits of an Icon" (on until October 18th) made a photography aficionado like me swoon, but the real show stopper there is the display of the 2015 BP Portrait Award winners' works (on until September 20th). Selected from almost 3,000 entries (record-breaking) by artists from 92 countries around the world, this special collection of 55 portraiture paintings is worth a special trip to London just to experience it.
On the agenda for today: The Wallace Collection, the London Metropolitan Archives to see "Victorian London in photographs" and Eckhart Tolle. Tomorrow the Eurostar will whisk me back to Paris in time for "Parler Paris Après Midi" -- so don't miss our monthly gathering's La Rentrée session tomorrow from 3 to 5 p.m. with author, David Downie, speaking about his new book, "A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light."
P.S. Doctor B. is the best ever in every respect. If you need a great doc in Paris (she's British, speaks the Queen's English and treats both men and women with logic, experience and TLC), email me and I'll send you her coordinates: email@example.com
P.P.S. Parler Paris Après Midi returns Septermber 8, TOMORROW with authour and Paris expert David Downey! David will be talking about his latest book, A PASSION FOR PARIS: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light. Don't miss it!
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