My next column at Bonjour Paris is now available, entitled (by my editor) simply: "Paris".
As I write this, I have just days left before I get on the plane for Paris, with much, much, MUCH luggage in tow (including a jar of JIF peanut butter. Hey, I know what’s important!) In fact, it’s entirely possible that as you are reading this, I am trying to catch quarante winks while cruising high above the clouds over the Atlantic.
The getting-ready part of the past two months leading up to this move has been so all-consuming at times that I’ve barely been able to connect with how it FEELS to finally, after over 30 years, be on the verge of getting what I’ve waited for my entire life. There are mixed feelings: mainly there is excitement, anticipation and joy at what lies ahead, but also sadness at leaving people I care about and a tinge of anxiety at the many “unknowns” of it all. I am really going to be on my own this time.
So now, as I take a few moments between trying to decide what clothing to bring, and doing a last bit of cramming on the French subjunctive, I am trying to slow down long enough to REALLY let it sink in.
I am going. To live. In Paris. Really. Yes, PARIS. As in FRANCE!
Someone pinch me, ‘cause I must be dreaming!
When we’ve dreamed about something and hungered for it for so long, why is it so hard to get our minds around it when it actually happens? Is it because we’re so preconditioned to never get our hopes up too high for what we want, lest we be disappointed? Who taught us to dream so small? Who taught us to be afraid to want more out life and to raise our standards? Who decided it was a dumb idea to shoot for the moon?
I think in life, our biggest threat to our own happiness is not terrorism, or the government, or anything or anyone outside of us. Our biggest threat is our own fears. Fear keeps us low. Fear keeps us small. Fear keeps us from stretching our limits, and from going after our dreams. And for decades, fear kept me from doing this crazy thing that really isn’t so when you get right down to it: moving to Paris.
One of my favorite quotes about fear is from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Moving to Paris, for me, is about much more than simply wanting to hang out in France, see French monuments, visit French museums, eat French food and do French things. It is my way of pushing myself NOT to play small in my life, anymore. It’s my way of raising the bar, upping the ante, and expecting more of my self. And that outweighs how much I will miss the people and things I’m forced to leave behind, and my fears of the unknown. This is just something I feel compelled to do for ME.
Some people like to say they came to Paris and found themselves. But I have already found myself by merely DECIDING to go to Paris. The CHOICE, and subsequent acting on that choice, has been the transforming experience for me. And I haven’t yet touched down on French soil.
So Paris, watch out. I’m on my way. I’m not sure what will happen to me once I get there, but whatever it is, I am so very ready for it. And so very, very grateful.
If I were Mary Tyler Moore, I’d be tossing my beret in the air right about now.