I remember my first trip to Paris well. I was in the midst of probably my greatest personal crisis as an adult. I had been hopelessly lost for years trying to live a life that simply wasn't mine. It was a life that society always told me that I should desire and no matter how hard I tried I realized it just didn't align with my authenticity. I was going through a divorce and the ironic part about all of it was no one was really to blame. We had simply grown apart. No one was to blame life had just offered an alternative path that each of us would follow.
Two weeks prior to my trip to Paris my ex and I had decided it was probably time for us to go our separate ways. We both agreed we would remain friends and raise our children as co-parents (we had consciously uncoupled long before Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin made it chic ☺). It was certainly a strange time in my life, everything I had worked for, struggled for and hoped to achieve I had done and yet I still had an underlying feeling of discontent.
It was in this landscape that I departed for Paris to try to find my footing in a new chapter that I was approaching in a torrent of waves that I most certainly wasn't prepared for. I landed in Paris with no idea of what I was doing, whom I was going to meet and most importantly no idea where my life was headed. But oddly enough, I wasn't scared. Quite the contrary, I felt alive. I felt liberated. I felt liberated like I hadn't felt in years and I knew instinctually that this feeling of liberation was the most beautiful harbinger of what was to come.
I landed in Paris at 7:30 am with a small slip of paper that revealed the address of the hotel where I would be staying for my 9 days in Paris. Hotel Beauvoir is a small boutique hotel that housed Ernest Hemingway from 1921-25 in room 61 where he was rumored to have written "A Movable Feast". It is located in my favorite part of Paris on the Left Bank not far from Notre Dame and the Louvre. When I landed in Paris it instantly felt like home. I felt as if everything I had gone through up to this point in my life, all of the challenges, each one had been worth it. To be in Paris--this was the antidote to whatever was troubling me up until that point of my life.
Paris is a truly magical city. She has a heartbeat that pulses through her each moment of each day and if you are present, if you stop and pay attention to your breathing, you can tap into it. Paris, to me, always says, "Everything is going to be okay."
My first moment, after putting my bags in my comically undersized room, was to walk the streets and take in this electric city. I walked from my hotel, and without any planning, came upon Luxembourg Gardens, or as the French call it, Jardin du Luxembourg. When I came upon this wonderful park there was something inside of me, it was almost inherent, that said, "I am home." My love affair with Paris began on this day.
I was transfixed by the smell of the city and the people milling about her going about their day. Lovers shared wine and a picnic, friends played Frisbee in the park, passersby used the Gardens as a passageway to get to the errands that they needed to run. Everything about Paris was alive, which made me, for the first time in a long time, feel alive as well. Something about Paris told me everything was going to be okay. My struggles would pass, my life would evolve and soon everything that seemed to be troubling me would soon be a distant memory.
Those struggles are a distant memory. They have faded away into the abyss nothing more than a stopping point on this journey that we call life.
Five years later I am about to embark on my latest journey to Paris. Well, I will start in Paris and then eventually end up in Rome where I fly home. In between is a mystery and this is what makes life worth living.
I am happy now. I am not sure how it happened or what I did to make it happen but I only know that contentment surrounds me and when we find ourselves it is our duty to lead people to the light. We will all get there whether we do it in Paris or Cleveland, or Kosovo, or Beijing or London or Perth or Rio de Janeiro or anywhere else in the world, if we only stop and realize we are perfect exactly as we are we will find the peace we are looking for.
You are loved, never forget that. The world awaits your expression.
Have a safe journey, Fellow Travelers, I will see you out in this wonderful world.