I have yet to come to a clear definition as to why Paris is called the “City of Light”. It could be because it’s produced some of the world’s greatest philosophers, poets and writers. Or that the city is home to some of the world’s greatest works of art. Or could it simply be that the sun sleeps just before 11pm during the spring equinox and summer solstice. Sitting at my worn out wooden desk, at 9pm, appreciating the visible greenery and sounds of birds from the park side view of the window in my room at my student residence, I suddenly realized something. Of all the potential assumptions to make before arriving in Paris, I never ever thought I would be living in a reality where nightfall’s so late! Within this realization I’m forced to reflect on what I truly expect from my experience and analyze which expectations are grounded or based in reality and which are fanciful illusions spun from a corny romantic comedy.
But first, resigning from a potentially lucrative career in Corporate America and relocating to a foreign country with no firm connections and the inability to communicate in the native language to some may sound crazy and to others brave and adventurous. Of course I experienced the natural feelings of fear and doubt of the unknown and mutual excitement and anticipation about the expectations that come along with creating something new. Yes, negative thoughts ran through my mind such as “Stephanie, what the hell are you doing?” However, as many seasoned travelers can verify, despite our biased media fed perceptions, unfounded stereotypes, and delusional assumptions, the reality of the world truly is that people are people. Lesson 1 – For me this means that most of us truly desire the best for ourselves, family and loved ones. We all want to live in peace, love and happiness. And we all seek to make connections with others who share similar interests and values. With this grounded expectation, accompanied by my previous experience living abroad, I know with complete confidence that anyone can go just about anywhere in the world, make connections, and create a lifestyle based on these fundamental desires inherent in all human beings.
What I love about Paris? The abundance of artistic and creative resources for learning has infinitely increased my appreciation for the arts and how the study of arts and language enrich one’s life and knowledge of Self. One of my major objectives for coming to Paris was to discover my creative talents and pursue independent study of the arts (language, painting etc). Lesson 2 – I truly over-stand the benefits of the study of the arts in relation to knowledge of Self and experience of the metaphysical concepts we study as seekers. Artistic expression stimulates right brained activity related to our creative and intuitive energies, can assist in the merger and balance of right and left brained thinking and is an effective method for understanding how the world and reality, as a system, truly operates. For example, a student of fine art may be asked to master the techniques related to creating a still life drawing of a 3D object (i.e. fruit on a plate). The student must first understand how to translate the perception of what is 3D onto a 2D surface (i.e. paper etc.). A student of art truly learns to become an observer of their reality. The observer then learns that in order to translate a 3D perspective of anything into a work of art you must capture how every angle of light based on your point of view (as simple as how you are sitting in observation of your subject at any particular time) creates your specific perception of what that object looks like on paper. Every shadow and every variance in intensity and depth of color and light must be captured to transform a 2D drawing into into a realistic 3D work of art. But as I understand it, isn’t this also the basis of our own 3D reality which is essentially nothing more than angles of light and perception.
The study of language has lifted the veil of intuition and grounded me in the understanding of the expression, “It Is What It Is”. When studying a foreign language the first lesson is to understand that every single word does not translate verbatim into your native tongue. Sometimes words and expressions, despite how confusing, just mean what they mean and there is no grammatical explanation that you can understand based on the rules that structure your native language. To become fluent you learn to express yourself based on the rules and in the way that is understood by native speakers. You drop your programmed perceptions of how ideas should be expressed. You learn that communicating in different languages is about the rhythm of words and the integration of sound. If it does not sound beautiful the French create a grammatical rule to change how the word is expressed in speech. Your creative mind is very active when learning to speak another language, speaking based on a rhythm teaches you about vibration and how to adjust to the frequency of a culture.
The Self is the Observer in the Darkness
Stepping outside of my cultural paradigm as an American and relocating to a foreign country has placed me in the seat of the observer. As an observer of my experience I have become more aware of Self and the choices that support the growth of, or, stagnation of the Self. Lesson 3 – Observation puts the Self in the seat of power. As an observer I simultaneously learn through the collection of information based on my new experience within France’s cultural paradigm and through the detached observation of my native cultural paradigm. I am on the outside looking into both realities, yet, not completely attached to either. All that is left is Me and my collection of knowledge based on personal experience that can be transformed into the infinite possibilities that exist in the present.
My Light Shines
So, why is Paris the “The City of Light”? Lesson 4 – The Light I see in Paris comes from the sun. The Light I see in Paris is natural. The Light I see in Paris is wild. The Light in Paris breaks all the rules, because the Light in Paris creates the rules. The Light in Paris unveils my power while at the same time shattering my belief systems of when darkness falls. The Light in Paris shines in the darkness of the unknown path created by my self defined limitations. The Light in Paris encroaches on the night and reveals a path to understanding what it means to step into the darkness. The Light in Paris permeates my perceptions and teaches me that I am the SOUL creator of my thoughts and experience. The Light I bring to my path is the Self. The Light I shine into the darkness is my creativity. I brought My Self to Paris. Where will you go?
– Stephanie Diane Ford