the best croissant so far

We got off the plane, exhausted after an excruciatingly long flight.  It was 6:00AM Saturday in Paris.  Our “limo” service was cramped and the morning sky was gray.  No one was in much of a mood to look around or talk as we fought our way through morning traffic.  Of course, it was too early for the travel agency to have opened; so we had to jostle our luggage along uneven, narrow sidewalks and then pack them together tightly while members of our party took turns making sure no one stole them.  We slumped down in wobbly chairs along the wet and littered concrete.  All we really wanted to do was sleep.

OK, stop.

Don’t you feel inspired to visit Paris?  Are you feeling the wonder of it all?  Of course not.  I suppose what you just read is someone’s version of Paris. But it wasn’t mine.

How surreal it was to finally touch down!  I had gotten a chance to practice my newly acquired French with the flight attendants during the trip.  They were extremely friendly and affirming, so my confidence was up.  I was ready to take on the City of Love.  It was like a dream.  I’d had an all-expense-paid trip to Paris dropped in my lap by the most wonderful friends, who all accompanied me.  In the weeks before our departure, they had extolled to me with much excitement the wonders of Paris.  The people there, they exclaimed, were charming and wonderful.  The architecture was breathtaking.  The atmosphere pure romance.  And the food!  They assured me that never in my life had I tasted a croissant as delicious as those in Paris.

We packed our overstuffed suitcases into the limos.  We’d all come with outfits for every possible occasion (including 12 pairs of shoes in my case), but by some miracle, it all fit.  It seemed all of the vehicles here were compact – even miniature – which was fascinating.  In the case of the limo, this provided an excuse to be extra cozy with our favorite people.  The driver was engaging and informative.

We passed the Arc de Triomphe and I welled up for the first time of many to follow.

The travel agency didn’t open for a couple of hours, which gave us a chance to relax and have our first “brecky” in Paris!  The cafe we chose was on a quaint little street that looked like something out of a movie.  Flower boxes adorned balconies and windows.  Every door was its own piece of art, exquisitely carved.  You could feel the history.  We all found seats at quaint, street-side tables, and ordered real café au lait.  And – croissants!  And sure enough, true to my friends’ promises, that croissant was the best I’d ever had in my entire life!

I’ve told many people about my trip to Paris last October, how truly wonderful it all was.  Some people’s reactions were interesting.  A few insisted that the croissants don’t really taste any better in Paris than they do from Dunkin Donuts; it was just that my friends had built it up so much — sort of brainwashed me into thinking they were better.

:: insert record scratch ::

OK, Mr. Skeptic.  So, you’re saying that, because my friends were overly positive in their attitude and expectations, my experience was changed to seem more positive than it actually was objectively.

Gotta be honest.  If my experiences in life can be more positive because of positive expectations, I’ll take it!

Now, I still insist that fresh-baked croissants in Paris are unrivaled.  But when I talk about my trip, I do say that Paris itself was only half of the wonder and dream of it all.  The other half was the people I was with.

Every day’s weather was “perfect!”  If it were on the chilly side, one of them would exclaim, “Isn’t this wonderful?  Oh!  I’m always so hot.  This is just perfect!”  If it got a bit windy, another would say, “Just look at how beautiful that makes the treetops along the Alley (that’s ah-LAY in French)!”

Everything we ate was met with much ooo-ing and ahh-ing and smacking of lips and “mmMMMmmm!”

As I said, in regard to my opening above, that is someone’s  version of Paris.  And is it true?  It can certainly be debated that the facts were true.  The sky may have been gray.  The taxi may have been tight.  The chair might have wobbled.  But my interpretation of the events – and where my eyes and mind are drawn – is determined by my attitude.  And, at the risk of sounding like the proverbial broken record, attitude is a choice.

That is to say, I can choose how I see my life and its events, and thus how much I enjoy it.

I’m not suggesting that we choose all of our circumstances in life.  Only our responses. Our “what next.”

During the trip, our flat was broken into.  All of our things were rummaged through.  Strangely, though the intruders had rifled through small laptops, iPods, cameras, medication, jewelry and other valuables, they had absconded with only a bottle of red wine.  It was actually a blast combining all of our French and savvy to communicate with the property owner and the gendarmes.  And when the representative from the travel agency came to help, we adopted him for the rest of our stay.  (OK, we really adopted him forever.)

So, was the break-in a cause for anger, irritation and wagging of heads?  We thought not.  Instead, it was an adventure.  And we came out of it with a wonderful new friend, who led us into even more adventures afterward.

To accept that attitude is a choice requires letting go of some rights I had been claiming.  The right to complain.  The right to be negative. The right to feel put upon when life doesn’t quite go my way.

Taking responsibility for my own attitude, however, leads to better tasting croissants.

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