Sometimes the razamataz of the carousel hides what's really important. It's not the treadmill of achieving bigger and better. What matters is family and friends, real people in real predicaments.
Recently on visit to the city of Paris, a carousel caught my eye. Well it didn't so much as catch my eye, as hypnotise me. It was twirling at the bottom of a hill on which the Sacre Coeur stands. The flood of childhood memories at Goose Fair, the swirl of colours, the dancing horses, the lights and the music, momentarily eclipsed the majestic beauty of the basilica in the background. I paid my euros, climbed aboard and rode my horse, smiling widely, feet swinging and blouse billowing.
It was only after leaving, that I'd learned that I'd missed Place du Tertre, the artists' district at the back of the basilica. Fortunately, I had time to return a couple of days later. How could the mesmerizing carousel have made me miss the real beauty and culture of the place? I'd literally had my head turned and had missed the wider picture.
I discovered narrow cobbled alleyways, incense drifting from doorways, street artists mixing paints - vermillion and chartreuse. I drank coffee over-looking Au Lapin Agile, where the Impressionist painters socialised in another era, conjuring up a heady mix of romanticism and seediness. Place du Tertre is immortalised by the likes of Picasso, Renoir and Toulouse Lautrec as their ghosts wander the alleyways and weather-worn ancient steps. The sun shone, garlic wafted like a delicious perfume and blossoms frothed. I shared a picnic on the hill, listening to a distant violinist serenading into the evening, and stayed until the night grew dark and the city sparkled with light.
Life does have its ups and downs, like the carousel. But I suppose it's looking beyond the obvious which is what really matters. Distractions pull at us like rose thorns, but I'm learning to be patient and accept that I only have a limited amount of control. I can write a book, I can polish it until I can recite paragraphs at a time from memory. I'm in control of when to post it and to whom I send it. But then - luck, serendipity, a happy chance, a lucky break? It's out of my hands. My competition entry wins first place, one of my children stumbles in life, I win a trophy, I lose a friend, I take photographs of the basilica, I leave my camera - somewhere in Paris.
As I'm waiting to hear if a publisher wants to take on my novel, I'm keeping busy on my second book, but also taking the time to look beyond the would-be colourful book cover, the success and am I allowed to say, the pride? I'm enjoying the process. I've made new friends at writing groups and pushed myself to do things outside of my comfort zone. I've read in public, held conversations with CEOs of literary agencies, I've asked questions, travelled alone for research and learned to take notice of more than what my eyes are showing me.
I'm dizzy with anticipation and hope that I may one day be offered a thrilling ride on the literary merry-go-round. Will I remain calm! Oh no. I'll jump aboard, blouse billowing whilst I holler and whoop!
But I'll definitely keep my eye on the wider picture.