Monday, April 11, 2011

Paris Redux

"There isn't Hell or Heaven, except in our resistance to life."

--Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape

"Resist NOTHING."

--The Universe to me on April 5, 2011 and April 1, 2005

My trip to Paris was lovely. It was everything I had hoped
it would be, and then some, which was a huge relief because my last couple trips to Paris were very disappointing. 

I realized on this trip how very lucky I am that the first few
times I went to Paris I went with French friends who showed me a Paris that very few tourists ever get to see. A Paris of openness and hospitality, fraternity and kindness. 
But I also realized how much my "solo" travel experiences were due to my resistance of life AS IT IS and not as I would like it to be. 

When I went back to Paris as an au pair I had a vision of what it was going to be like: I was going to learn French easily and instantly, I was going to dress and talk and carry my self like a sophisticated French woman easily and instantly, my French family and I were going to love each other easily and instantly. 
When none of these things materialized, I resisted fervently, until I couldn't resist anymore, and I went home. 

When I went back to Paris as a tourist I had a vision of what it was going to be like: Paris was going to welcome me back with open arms and say, "Hey, where have YOU been? We missed you!" I would speak perfect French despite years of neglect and we would have a five-day, movie-quality experience. 
When none of these things materialized, I resisted fervently, until I couldn't resist anymore and I ended up crying in the middle of a Parisian square. 

This time I took a different tack. My "plan" was to show up and see what happened (aka "Napoleon's Battle Plan;" see also "Napoleon's Battle Plan."). To see what Paris had to offer me this time and enjoy whatever that was. 
It worked like a charm. 

I was able to enjoy the beauty that Paris had to offer: the coffee, the cafes, the food, the wine, the art and the architecture, the easily navigable Metro, the gardens and the language. And I was able NOT to resist the frustrations: the ubiquitous dog shit, the "host" who showed up four hours late not only with no apology, but with an excuse that turned it into our fault, the withering looks from French women who found my American fashion sense (or perceived lack thereof) a personal affront that ruined their day, the sense that (particularly at rush hour) you are always in someone's way, the wait staff that just didn't want to deal with another American tourist butchering the French language. 

Since coming back, I have tried to apply this philosophy to my "real life," with some success. Whatever happens each day, whatever shows up, I just breathe into in and let it be, I don't resist and that seems to make all the difference in the world. 

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever heard of Paris Syndrome?

    I saw this on the BBC and remembered reading this post a few weeks back.