I spent an hour in Paris once, driving around the sparkling Eiffel tower at midnight and then leaving town again. That was all I needed to see. It was the second time I had visited. The first time I officiated a wedding under that same metal wonder. You could say that by the second visit we were already friends.
That first time I walked Champs Elysee with Joe Dassin echoing in my head. I slept on a park bench for the night too, and got woke up by a street sweeper the next morning. Why didn't I get a hotel? There were none closer to Notre Dame Cathedral than the park bench. But most of all I remember laying on the grass and looking up at the Eiffel Tower. People spread themselves across the lawn reading books, having picnics, falling in love.
The Eiffel Tower is magnetic, attracting people from all over the world. The tower is the most iconic and recognizable structure in the world. I ate dinner in the metal belly once, looking out towards a square where locals gathered to watch France play in a world cup soccer game. I watched them from above, drinking wine and eating fine food.
From inside you look upon the world through slanted metal beams that criss-cross each other multiple times. They are perfectly spaced and organized for climbing.
The tower is a lattice metal structure built in the late 1800's as an entrance to the world fair and in remembrance of 100 years since the French Revolution. The tower is almost 1,000 feet tall. Our great achievements today consist of Instagram and Twitter. Both of these grand achievements stand exactly .0039 inches tall, or the thickness of a piece of paper. These manifestations of the mind do not exist in the real world. They are electronic wonders, modern works of art that would not exist without a power source.
While people travel thousands of miles to be married under the Eiffel Tower, Facebook shows the pictures of this marriage. One of these accomplishments inspires people and gives meaning, the other is merely a reactive regurgitation of inspiration.
Even in the darkness the tower is there standing as a symbol for what we can achieve with teamwork, muscle and brains. After leaving the Eiffel Tower behind at midnight, with white lights crawling from its four legs to its point, I couldn't help but wonder what the next Eiffel Tower would be. It has been over a hundred years and we are still waiting.