Photo by Robin Benzrihem on Unsplash
If the fire at Notre Dame has taught us anything is that we need to take the time to see the world before it goes up in flames.
Last week I wrote about why having a bucket list- and doing the things on it- was important. About 90 minutes later I got an alert on my phone from CNN that the Notre Dame cathedral was on fire. I was planning on writing about my time in Paris in July when it marked the five years since the trip. But there is no time like the present.
Before I get a chance to dive into this article, I want to make it very clear that this is not me bragging that I got to see Notre Dame before the fire that happened this past Monday. This is simply a realization I had this week about never waiting for the right time to do what you’ve always wanted to do. We always say that we will do things later, but later may be too late.
This past Monday, the whole world watched in heartbreak as the historic Notre Dame Cathedral had caught fire, which was possibly due to the construction that is taking place to restore the 800-year-old building. Luckily, Notre Dame was not completely lost. The stained-glass windows, relics, Apostles Statues, and most of the building remained intact. But Notre Dame Cathedral will never be what I experienced five years ago.
Notre Dame is a staple to tourists who visit Paris and to Christians everywhere. It is not only the oldest and most famous Gothic-style churches in the world but is also home to many important holy relics that are of great value to the Christian faith. It one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and attracts over 13 million visitors a year. Due to the damage caused by the fire, Notre Dame is projected to be closed for repairs for nearly five years.
When I was 17 I went to Europe for the first time. I was there for a student trip and it was the best experience of my life. I had always wanted to see Notre Dame since I was a young child. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was one of my favorite movies as a child and became one of my favorite novels as a teenager.
As I saw live updates as the cathedral was burning, my heart began to sink. I kept thinking that if Notre Dame burned to the ground, I would not be able to share it with my future kids. I would not be able to go back years later and see it again. If Notre Dame was no longer there, it would only reside in internet photos and the memories of those who were lucky enough to see it.
This reminded me of a conversation I had when I was getting ready to leave for Paris five years ago. One of my old classmates and I were talking about our plans for the summer, where I mentioned to him that I was traveling to Europe. He asked me why I was doing that? “Wouldn’t you want to wait until you’re older and have actual money?” He said. I remember saying to him, “Why would I wait? If I wait until later I’ll be waiting for a very long time”.
If you push things off, eventually it will be too late. There is never going to be that perfect moment. The perfect time does not exist, and later never seems to come around. Everything that we wish to do, to experience, and to accomplish always has an expiration date. Time eventually runs out, buildings catch fire, and people won’t want to wait around for later.
Later is the excuse we give ourselves to not do the things that really matter to us. We don’t want to blow it off and say no because something in us still wants that possibility. We use ‘later’ so we are not disappointed with the reality. We use later because it keeps our dreams and fantasies just that. Just a dream or a fantasy. That fear of not knowing what will happen at that moment is what keeps us from doing things at the moment. None of us want to be disappointed, so we just say ‘later’
That is the problem with later, or waiting for the right moment, or putting things off because you think that they might be too hard or disappointing. But if you wait too long for something it might just burst into flames.
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