I spent a week in Paris once. It was a perfect week.
After a divorce, I realized I didn’t need a car because I could walk to work and shop in the small grocery store in an adjacent apartment building by carrying home what I needed every few days.
Each month I saved the money the car had cost and decided to travel instead. Up until that time, I thought I was too important at work to ever take time off. Then another grand daughter was born and I felt impelled to spend one weekend a month with her, which was a short train trip down the Southern California coast.
That was the beginning.
Probably I was worried all along that if I started traveling, I would love it so much that work would come second instead of first and that is exactly what happened. I discovered that I was not too important, that things went on without me, and that life had been waiting for me to discover it.
After a few months of saving, I had money enough to visit Paris, my life long dream. I asked both my daughters if they would like to go with me, I would pay the travel cost. However, they were both caught up with husbands and babies so I went on my own.
I can remember every detail as if it happened yesterday when really it was over 10 years ago. The plane ride from California to Paris was long but delightful because I was so grateful to be going.
I had packed light knowing that I would be lugging my bags around on my own. I took a taxi from the airport to a bus stop and a bus to my hotel in the middle of the night, all with the help of strangers who spoke my language even though I didn’t speak theirs.
I spent every day without a clock or any contact with the outside world other than the city of Paris. I got up when I felt like it, I ate when I felt like it, I went to bed when I felt like it. I stayed at a little family run hotel near the Arc de Triomphe so I walked through it every day on my way out and on my way back in and felt the history of the city within its stones.
I made no plans about what I would do. I simply walked. I got on the subway and rode places knowing I could get on another one to get back. Heading back to my tiny hotel room at night I bought baguettes from the bakery and grapes from the subway vendor. I had packed one book that I read when I couldn’t sleep while I waited for it to be light enough to start walking again.
I had two pairs of shoes so I could wear alternate ones each day. I called home once after figuring out how to buy a phone card and use the public phone so the girls would know I was ok; otherwise, I rarely spoke to anyone other than ordering food, or occasionally asking directions.
I was at home in Paris. I would sit in the café’s for hours or stroll by the Seine. Churches did not lock their doors so any time I needed to rest I could stop in and absorb their silent beauty,
Most people thought I was from Paris, and I reveled in the fact I looked like I belonged there. The few Americans I spoke to were shocked that I had traveled alone. I was shocked that they could only travel in packs.
I bought a pass that allowed me to walk directly into any museum anywhere, so I would walk into one and out again, take a short walk down the road, find another and walk in and out as slowly or as quickly as I wanted.
I noticed everything. I saw that some days I would see the same people over and over again even though I never knew where I was gong to go. The order and symmetry of it all was wonderful.
I loved that they cleaned the sidewalks with big sprays of water every morning. I loved the coffee and the croissants. I loved the light, the gardens, and even the brisk air. There was nothing I didn’t love about Paris.
I had told myself that if I wanted to I could go live in Paris. After spending a week there, I knew that I wouldn’t, not because I didn’t love it or that it didn’t feel like home, but because I realized that I could never get away from the fact that I wanted to be near my family. This was surprisingly a wonderful, freeing realization.
It was beyond delightful to visit to Paris alone that year. I became grateful there was no one to travel with me at that time because I didn’t have to bend my desires to anyone. It was a moment in time that I will never forget.
Now, I am grateful I have someone to travel with me who travels the same as I do, and that I have found home where I live, and my traveling bug has been fulfilled - for now.
However, I realize that the lessons of that trip to Paris are important to remember. Life is waiting for us to discover it. Work will be fine without us. Take some time to see the world, beginning in your own back yard. Don’t wait for someone else to do it with you, begin within, and enjoy the journey.
Beca developed an easy system to do this called The Shift and has been sharing how to use this system to expand lives, and bring people back to the Truth of themselves for over 40 years.
Beca and her husband Del Piper are constantly working to develop new ways to support and reach out to others. Much of what they have been developed can be found for free at their membership site Perception U.com. They also founded The Women’s Council with the intent of “strengthening the connection to yourself, to others, and to the Divine.”