Spontaneous Trip To Paris

Drupalcon 2009 - Paris - 43 - Courtesy of CHris Heuer

Main Entry: spon·ta·ne·ous Pronunciation: \spän-ˈtā-nē-əs\ Function: adjective Etymology: Late Latin spontaneus, from Latin sponte of one’s free will, voluntarily Date: 1653

1 : proceeding from natural feeling or native tendency without external constraint 2 : arising from a momentary impulse 3 : controlled and directed internally : self-acting 4 : produced without being planted or without human labor : indigenous 5 : developing or occurring without apparent external influence, force, cause, or treatment 6 : not apparently contrived or manipulated : natural

The day after the Cause It’s My Birthday finale in Los Angeles, a good girlfriend of mine hosted 8 ladies for brunch at her place in the Hollywood Hills. All fabulous, professional, intelligent, gorgeous and tremendous ladies I’m privileged to call friends. Most of them NOT on twitter, not reading my blog, not super in social media. From a lawyer to interior designer, MBA candidate to nonprofit, water resource management to public relations, we all just sat around and caught up on each others’ lives. That included job and boys and professional goals and it was crazy because to some extent, I’m really used to friends in the digital and online space knowing a lot about me. That can be from my blog, to Flickr, to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter - part of my whole “deal” during my Kiva Fellowship was to share and make everyone feel like they were involved and knew what was going on and so to sit around a group of girls and kinda have to start from scratch was interesting and fun and challenging in a way too to recall so many memories but condense them succinctly - after all 9 is a LOT of girls and a lot of talking we had to fit in. In the back of my mind was the fact that I now only get to see these girls once every few months and that a few of them are some of my best friends. The friendships we both work hard at, the ones I cherish, the ones that don’t come along every day.

So we sit there and we laugh and gossip and flow from one topic to another the way girls do. My one very close friend had an exciting announcement. She said she had been asked, and said YES, to go on a spontaneous trip to Paris that upcoming week with a guy she had met once. To keep the story short (and get to the point of where I’m going with this post) I’ll just say they met on a plane about 5 months ago, he had just recently ended an engagement, she was ending a very serious relationship and they just sort of started emailing. (This is not a secret story about me, I swear). And emailing some more. He lives in Europe mostly, she lives in Los Angeles and it wasn’t an intense amount of communication, but enough. He had called her the week before about maybe going to Italy to do something or another and she thought about it and suggested Paris.

Why? She had never been. Just about a month ago, finally broken up with her epic boyfriend of her 20’s and moving forward with her life she had heard a quote that stuck with her. It was “MAYBE YOU’RE EXACTLY WHERE YOU SHOULD BE RIGHT NOW.” As in, stop looking forward and stop looking back and just be. She thought about what she wanted in the now and what she wanted was an adventure. To visit Paris. To do something spontaneous. ** Turning to us, she asked, “Is this crazy? I mean should I really go?”**

We all had tons of comments. I mean how exciting! Paris! In the fall! It’s such a romantic city all the time, but in October when the air is crisp and it’s just cold enough to hold onto the person you’re walking with but not too cold, there might be nothing more romantic. But then again how much did she really know about this guy? Was she worried at all? What did her gut tell her? After talk and discussion - us of the “have passport will travel” well…It was unanimous. DO IT! Live a little. Her boss was going to give her the days off. She found a great fare. The guy could only be there for the weekend and we all know another girl who moved there last year that she could stay with for a few additional days. I mean what’s a weekend? She was confident in her decision and of, in a way, creating the reality from an intention she had set the month before.

But after the brunch, as she graciously agreed to drive me back to The Brewery where I was staying, she turned to me one-to-one and said, “Sloane, I trust you. Tell me really, is this crazy?”

Who am I to say what’s crazy? I don’t even have an apartment of my own! I’m in a new city all the time and I’m always up for adventure and for travel. Still, I looked at her said, “Honestly, he could have asked you to go to Omaha and I would say do it.”

She looked at me and laughed, “Omaha? Really?”

“Here’s the thing,” I said. “It’s not about WHERE you go, though Paris is lovely. And it’s not even a whole ton about who you go with, though that’s an added bonus. It’s about YOU making the most out of an opportunity and turning in into an experience and then into a wonderful memory. It’s about the fact that you’ve always wanted to go to this place and you’re going into the situation without huge expectations and without asking for anything in return. ** You’re doing it to do it.** And in the grand scheme of things, you never know. On one hand, it could be the most incredible trip ever and the start of something truly wonderful. A new and exciting chapter in your life. On the other hand, the guy might only be ok, the weather might suck, you might be there and barely over jetlag by the time you have to turn around. But think about it. _How many people would love to say once when they were young they jumped on a plane to meet someone they barely knew in a city they had never been to? _

You’ll be in a new city to explore and to soak in and to step away from your daily life. You can examine the type of person you are, you’ve been, and where you want to go. You can make this trip as much about YOU as about Paris or about this guy you’re going there with. Paris is the location sure.

But Paris is a symbol for you wanting to take charge of your life and be the kind of person that gets on the plane. That jumps at opportunity. That trusts your instincts enough to know that it is going to be ok and this is something you’re confident about. You trust yourself to make the right decision.”

She looked at me, inhaled and exhaled deeply and said, “I do want to be that kind of person. I’m not sure I was before, but I want to be now.”

Don’t most of us want to say we were brave enough to take a spontaneous trip to Paris? That we loved ourselves enough to cross something off our life to-do list and willed ourselves to be so outrageously excited about something that we didn’t know the outcome of? Something that has so many variables in the unknown category that it’s hard to say which are known?

What’s YOUR trip to Paris?

Maybe your Paris is to finally redo that home office you’ve been talking about for years (so you can write that book you’ve been talking about for equally as long). Maybe your Paris is setting off on foot in your neighborhood on a Saturday without a destination and seeing where the wind takes you. Picking up a new instrument or language or skill. Making yourself uncomfortable in an unknown situation but working through that fear to realize it’s all going to be ok. Maybe your Paris is damn Paris.

I just would like to challenge you to think about what your “Paris” is and then what is stopping you. We only have this one wild and wondrous life and it goes by in the blink of an eye.

*If you liked this post and are going to be in the New Orleans area next weekend, I encourage you to come to TribeCon, a conference about community happening within the Voodoo Experience. I’ll be speaking on a panel with Taylor Davidson and Carl Nelson called **”Make Yourself Uncomfortable: How to Rawk a New Community” where we’ll be talking more about community than say PARIS, but you get the general idea.

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