The setting sun painted the skies a dreamy pinkish hue the colour of candy floss. With a cavalier casualness, the sun infiltrated the clouds grey with oncoming rain; and now the clouds, infused with this incongruous saccharine pink, looked unreal, almost futuristic, like a computer-generated image in the style of Rene Magritte. Magritte's matter-of-fact lines and precisely defined contours, separating clearly the subject from its background; and this was what the clouds looked like as they glowed starkly, with a touch of the surreal, against a pink that evokes Monet's Houses of Parliament at sunset.
Of course, it is the other way around: Monet evokes the candied pink of the setting sun. It is nature that inspires us, for we cannot inspire what contains us. But I tend to forget; I am far removed from nature even as I cannot survive without it. I marvel at human genius and the beauty that it is capable of, forgetting all the time that it is nature for whom beauty is effortless--for whom, simply put, beauty is being.
It is fitting that I was reminded of this when touching down to Nice. The last time that I had a similar thought was almost exactly a year ago, swimming in the Med with my back to the Cote d'Azur, the Promenade des Anglais, and thinking about humans and nature, humans in nature. Alas, I cannot quite remember the exact content. I had written about it on the beach in between my swims. Essentially, I am always moved by reminders, usually brought about by my being in the sea, of how insignificant most of us are in the grander scheme of things. Even our efforts at making sense of existence, be it presupposing a god of sorts, or concluding that existence is simply that which is poor, nasty, brutish and short--what does Nature care? It goes on quietly in the background, putting in place the necessary conditions for us to scurry about like a headless chicken to make sense of all of this.
Perhaps it ultimately does not matter. Or perhaps the opposite might be more apposite: that it matters precisely because we have the capacity to scamper about and fret over the meaning of existence, unlike Nature that simply exists. Can we simply exist? Am I capable of simply existing?
I have spent a significant portion of my adult life feeling dissatisfied with my life and plagued by the urge to up and leave. I am a restless soul, I have been told. Perhaps more precisely: my effort to try, but fail, to make sense and something of my life had led to a largely unhappy three years of a PhD at Cambridge.
But now: perhaps it is because I can see a glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel; or perhaps it is because I have moved to London; whatever it is, and despite the pressure of finding employment, I finally feel a sense of peace that has been missing from my life for the past two years. Perhaps it is also due to my letting go of the urge, the need, to find a romantic relationship and wanting to just be happy being
I want to live my life with a purpose. I want to be open to new experiences. I want to stare the meaninglessness of life in the face and rise above, to overcome, because, yes, that is what true freedom is: to be free to make and invent life in your own image, to choose to live despite your existentialist convictions, to live up to, and fulfill, the potential of the person capable of coming to these existentialist conclusions. Have I not always valued freedom? I have never really understood it, not even when I was enamoured with Kant's idea of freedom; but now, I think I finally get it.
Here is something I don't get: it is two times in a row now that I land in a place that's known for its warm weather, just to receive a warm welcome of an incongruent and surprising pissing rain. Pissing Rain was what greeted me when I landed in Treviso en route to Venice; rain was what greeted me today when we touched down at Nice (great landing, by the way; didn't even feel the impact. This pilot was amazing), and when I got off Bus 98, the rain was coming down pretty hard. I didn't bring an umbrella, naturally; this is a beach holiday and I did not anticipate any rain. So I had to drag my suitcase and my handbag in which contained my laptop in the pouring rain while trying to navigate with my phone. There were hardly any shelters on the way to the apartment but thankfully, it was a short 6-minute walk.
I really love this place. I had such a wonderful time here last year and I'm happy to be back. I'm staying in the main shopping area this time, which explains why my vegetarian thali dinner cost 18 euros; but this was the cheapest option that had two thins that I needed: easy beach access and a short-ish walk to the train station. It's also a bit closer to the Old Town. But honestly, Nice is so easy to get around. The buses/trams are convenient, and it's such a joy to walk along the promenade and feel the seabreeze and sun on your face, smell the salt water...it doesn't even feel crowded despite the tourist crowd (though perhaps it's worse in August).
I want to go to Menton this time. I was thinking of going to Juan les Pin again because the beach was AMAZING!!! but I think I should explore a new place. I shall do that on Tuesday. So exciting!