“I feel a bit lost,” he mutters mostly to himself, glancing up at me despondently. His piano-player fingers tremble as he runs them through his salt-and-pepper hair, fingering a twist at the end. I wonder if that was a habit of his infancy. It was a subtle act of self-comfort embedded into his psyche – a pacifier for the soul.
He flips through the softly used books a bit, the covers making a shuffling noise like dry leaves on the pavement. “I thought I knew what I was searching for, but every time I start a new story, a new chapter, I feel overwhelmed,” he explains. His soft voice drops an octave barely above a whisper, “I’m not sure what I am searching for.” His fingers flash briefly to the curl again and find respite there.
I shrug half-heartedly, a bit disarmed by the honesty of his confession to a stranger at a bookstore. “What kind of story do you want?”
“Sometimes I think I need to read educational books, business books,” his brow furrows, and cashmere-grey eyes shift to the left as if he is mentally recalling the titles on his bookshelf. “And then I think, no, I need self-help books, motivational books, philosophy, to help me better understand myself…” his voice trails off.
Cornered as an impromptu counselor, I shift the books in my arms and raise my eyebrows, and he continues, “But I already know I have everything I need. I am just afraid to move forward.”
He leans back on his heels, almost like a stiff breeze of truth pushed him into awareness, and rocking forward, he catches himself off balance and reaches out to the wall.
Feeling lightly into his blazer, he pulls something tenderly out of the pocket and extends his hand towards me. Gently, palm up, he fans open his piano fingers to expose a tiny iridescent blue-green beetle.
“I found him. A jewel beetle symbolizes wisdom and change.” We both peer into his palm, waiting for his omen to move. And then he winks at me, tucking his treasure back into the houndstooth jacket pocket.
1. Explore the Cluny Museum
2. Rub the good luck shoe of Michel de Montaigne
3. Buy a French philosophy book at J Vrin
4. Read in a green chair at Jardin du Luxembourg
5. Lunch at @treize_au_jardin