Travel Tuesday: French Connection

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
― Marcel Proust

A psychic once told me that she foresaw me taking a trip to a place where I had lived during a past life.

“Wow. I hope I’ll know it when it happens,” I replied.

“You’ll know. You’ll know it in your heart and by the intense feelings you experience.”

I’m not sure about the truth to all that, but nonetheless, it is an intriguing idea. There are those moments when you have such an unexpected reaction to a place as you step your foot on the ground. Similar to how a smell can elicit a strong sense of deja vu.

DeJa-Vu by HongNian-Zhan

DeJa-Vu by HongNian-Zhan

As I was thinking about this–about places I have been (in this life) and what feelings are attached to those travels–my junior year of college quickly came to mind. I lived and studied in France that year. As an adult, I carry a sense of disappointment with me about what I made (or didn’t make) out of that experience.

“I didn’t immerse myself in the culture as much as I wanted to.”

“I didn’t speak the language as much as I should have.”

“I am not the grand traveler my family wants to imagine I am.”

Simply, I feel like I wasn’t brave and that I came back a bit of a fraud.

As you might have sensed, it’s actually a lot of Me being too hard on Me….a habit I’ve become quite good at across life contexts.

Still, there is a seed of truth in all that self-flagellation which warrants a gentle, compassionate consideration. The seed shows me it is time to have that inner-child conversation of forgiveness and resolution. To let 15-years-ago be what it was. To love exactly who I was then and to be grateful for the part that year played in creating who I am now. (Look at that–I think I might be having the inner-conversation right now!)

There is another level of resolution that beckons to me too though: I want to reconcile with France. I want to return, sit down with France, and have a new conversation…the one you have with your ex once you’ve both moved on and truly forgive and appreciate one another. I want to just go love it for what it is and be in the moment amidst all it’s glory.

I wouldn’t go to France again carrying the burdens of the nagging “shoulds” with me. They are much to heavy no matter where you travel, I have found. No, I would like to be back on those Mediterranean beaches with no other goal than to feel the sun and taste the salt. I would like to walk in Paris with no other expectation than to be me in Paris. I would, with gratitude for it, speak my broken French if I wanted to, and I would be equally grateful for my fluent English whenever it came in handy.

I would like to make peace with a place, to help make peace with me.  I have found that innerconnection happens in so many different splendid ways. Why not on the TGV while humming past the countryside of Provence?

french-countryside

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3 thoughts on “Travel Tuesday: French Connection

  1. Hi Simone, this article stirs up a lot of things in me, as I’m living in France now and I don’t speak very good French and have the same inner self-flagellation you’re mentioning here. 🙂 When I lived in the US I loved to shop in French Connection, and dreamed about life in France (the 2 are not necessarily connected 😉 ). But with life I am learning that when you’re living in your dream it’s not a dream any more, it’s just the reality where the dissatisfaction, imperfection and small frictions are so much more obvious than anything else. And now I’m still on my path to reconciling the conflicting needs while living in France. Thank you for sharing and visiting my blog. 🙂

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