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The Price We Pay for Freedom

Tis the season to think about ‘freedom.’

Saturday, the U.S. of A. celebrated it 240th year of freedom from rule by Britain. In just eight days, France will celebrate its 227th year of freedom from monarchistic rule — beginning a wave of revolutions against European monarchies.

The Independence Days on both sides of the Atlantic are similarly celebrated — with family and friends gathering for picnics and barbecues topped off by fireworks displays. Traditionally, for the Fourth of July, I like to have ‘my cake and eat it, too’ (wasn’t that Marie-Antoinette who said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche?”), or in this case, down a burger and a Coke. On July 14th, tradition is upheld by an all-day picnic on the Champ de Mars to usher in the fireworks display at the Tour Eiffel.

None of that is going to happen this year for me personally due to a turn of events that simply prevents it. Tomorrow I’m off to the Good Ol’ U.S. of A. to be with family for what would have been my mother’s 98th birthday. It has been planned months earlier, so we (the family) decided to gather again to celebrate her life instead of her death. While my comrades in France will be watching the fireworks, my sisters and I will be selling off what’s left of her personal furnishings and belongings and preparing the house for the sale that will take place the day after Bastille Day.

Reduced air fares on XL Airways traveling on Bastille Day made it palatable to give up what is normally one of my favorite holidays in France. It’s not an airline I was familiar with, so this is a test. Formerly known as “Star Airlines,” it’s a French airline operating to “long-haul destinations in Africa, the Middle East, the United States and the Caribbean as well as charter flights to medium-haul destinations in the Mediterranean, mostly out of Charles de Gaulle Airport.” The fair was almost half any other I found.

This past year has been one of ‘divesting’ rather than ‘investing’… with two Paris properties having sold and a parent lost. I’ve mourned them all, and felt the void, but with the loss comes a kind of freedom.

We all know the phrase “Less is more” as coined by Robert Browning, and Meister Eckhart (a 13th-century German theologian, philosopher and mystic) said, “The more we have the less we own.” My own ‘guru’ Eckhart Tolle, said, “The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”

This is a time to reflect on what is possessed, what is not possessed, what is needed and what is not needed. The question is: what’s truly important in our lives?

I moved to France and in the process divested of much of my ‘worldly possessions’ to live in a much smaller space with a lot less. What came from that was an unexpected enrichment as the world unfolded and I was flooded with new relationships, experiences and knowledge. I’ve learned that there is only one thing we all need:

Freedom? Yes, freedom.

It’s what the Americans and the French both fought for. It’s what they cherish and celebrate.

Happy Belated 4th of July and “Bonne Fête Nationale!”

A la prochaine,

Adrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group

(Bastille Day day on the Champ de Mars)

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P.S. Just a reminder that Parler Paris Après Midi will NOT be meeting on the second Tuesday of this month, but instead will meet Tuesday July, 21 with guest William Jordan. Get all the details for this session at Parler Paris Après Midi!


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