People ask me, “What is it about Paris that draws you back time and time again?”
“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.” William Stafford
When I was 21, a newly graduated Bachelor of Education Student from the University of British Columbia, I announced to my parents about having strong doubts toward being employed as a teacher. My Scottish Father’s response: “What the bloody hell (or something like that). What is it you think you want to do?”
I wasn’t sure. I recall not feeling ready to be an ‘adult’ and there was a hiring freeze in British Columbia for new teachers. What to do? I batted around ideas of traveling Europe solo for a year, asking to be hired as the caretaker at my old summer camp, and various other ‘job searches.’ My Dad, in what I now see as a remarkable gift, suggested that perhaps a summer away would help me ‘sort it out.’
In a series of unfolding events, 2 weeks later I was flying to Europe, embarking on a 38 day Contiki Bus tour (along with 25 plus other 19 – 30 year olds) throughout Europe. My Dad, accountant that he was, negotiated a deal: I would pre-sell him my car to finance my European adventure, and upon return would sell the car and repay him the loan.
I spent the first night in London, sobbing. Curled up, fetal position, on a very small twin bed. What had I done? I didn’t know a soul and was going to be staying in camp sites, sharing tents with people I’d never met.
I’d followed a tug, an inner nudge, and dove off the cliff.
Our first official day of the tour was spent driving from London to the Cliff’s of Dover, boarding the ferry to France, and arriving late at night at our campground outside of Paris. Our first stop in Paris, the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was windy, cold and dark, but something about the stars and the landscape captured my soul. Yelling, “I will return,” I walked the outer edges of the top floor, scanned the night sky and knew something had shifted.
There’s power, mystery, and magic when you connect with your longing and intention. I’ve been to Paris multiple times since that fearful beginning. I’m still following the thread. (Post Contiki tour I returned to Vancouver, worked many an odd job, spent a number of years teaching, youth pastoring, raising a family, and living life).
In my early 40’s a therapist posed the question: “How do you feel when you’re in Paris?”
“Free,” came flying off my tongue.
“Let’s see if we can work that freedom into your daily life, shall we?”
What a journey. Daily I have a choice to follow the things/interests/service/love that brings me life, or not. I want to live life, fully free, wherever that may be. It it’s walking the streets of Paris, to meandering the neighborhoods in Seattle. I long to share my love of Paris with others. SoulStrolling à Paris has come from my friendship with Kayce S.Hughlett and our shared practice of walking with intention.
It’s about practicing the art of paying attention, no matter where life unfolds. It’s a daily curating of pausing, breathing, noticing. A non frantic savoring of life. A cultivating of the ‘now.’
If SoulStrolling à Paris resonates with you, then consider joining us for our next adventure: October 17 – 24, 2015.