Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting is presented at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France on 6 July 2019. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

For his milestone birthday a couple years ago, I gifted my brother a trip to Paris. Well, first he had to find his way to London, and I’d take care of the rest. He bought his ticket and sent me the list of what he wanted to do on the trip. Naturally, a visit to the Louvre to see the famous Mona Lisa was mandatory! 

It was the first week of September and the weather was gorgeous. We pre-booked our tickets for the Louvre online and we arrived at the appointed time. The line to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece started as soon as we entered the museum – everyone climbing the escalator was going to the same place. We eventually advanced into a room where a serpentine line aimed to accommodate as many people as possible. The next room housing the painting was similarly packed. It was an incredible throng.  

To keep things moving, the overwhelmed museum guards were barking instructions in a none too gentle manner. “Avancer…avancer” they hollered. All that was left was to physically shove people. Finally, it was our turn to draw closer. We had about 30 seconds to see the Mona Lisa from within the crowd before we too were being barked at and hustled out of the way. This article sums up perfectly what we experienced https://news.artnet.com/art-world/louvre-mona-lisa-crowd-1613794 

Having seen the painting, albeit briefly, I was glad to escape the madness. My brother and I wandered into an adjoining room. He drew me aside to talk. Here’s how the conversation went:  

“Sis, I have to tell you something.” he said. 

“What’s up?” 

“I didn’t see it.” 

“You didn’t see what?” I was confused. 

“The Mona Lisa. I didn’t see it.” 

“What do you mean?” 

“It was so fast, and I was trying to take a picture, but I didn’t get a good picture and I didn’t see it either. I didn’t actually look at it. Can we go back?” 

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. That was me remembering to breathe but, in my mind, I was like, “What? You flew from Seattle to London, caught the train to Paris, came to the Louvre with seeing Mona Lisa at the top of your list and you didn’t actually look at it? What the France!” 

The chorus from Eminem’s Lose Yourself started playing in my head:  

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow 

This opportunity comes once in a lifetime  

There’s always noise and confusion, our own distracting thoughts, or somebody throwing us off course. Through it all, we can’t forget our mission. What we have is THIS moment. This moment is a unique time stamp, the next second is a new one, this one will be gone forever. If you’re not present, or not focused, you may miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Maybe you will get another shot but that’s not guaranteed.  

That day in the Louvre was a solid life lesson. It was a reminder to stay present in your life, focus on what you came to do and experience the richness of each moment on the journey. 

I invite you to pause right now, breathe, and ask yourself “where am I?” The answer is “here.” Be here now.  

Just in case you are wondering…I joined the line again with my brother so he could ‘actually see’ the Mona Lisa; it was his milestone birthday after all 😊. 

Thanks for stopping by. Share your comments and visit again soon, I share new content each week so don’t forget to subscribe.   

© Arlene Amitirigala 2021. All Rights Reserved.

14 thoughts on “Stay Present…or You Might Miss the Magic

  1. Difficult to stay focused With-All-The-Noise.
    Too often we permit distraction(s) from everyone and everything. Arlene, thanks for the reminder. Happy you were able to rejoin the line.

    Liked by 1 person

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