the next adventure

Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason,
you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose
from all else and electing
a world
where you go where you want to.
Arbitrary, a sound comes, a
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that
will tell you where it is and you
can slide your way past
Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path—but that’s
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
on earth, again and again.

Cutting Loose by William Stafford

Do you remember the feeling of childhood summers that seemed to last forever?
The more familiar my world became, the more quickly time seemed to pass. I needed to slow everything down. That’s one of the reasons I packed up everything, including my two cats, and moved to France. The moment I left the circumstances I’d grown accustomed to, I was already in a foreign country.

If life is short, why do we do so many things we don’t like?
Something was missing in my life, but I didn’t know what. There was no variation in the landscape of my days. Moving to France changed that. I was not allowed to work as an architect or designer, so I had to rediscover myself. By letting go of the what-ifs, how-comes, and should-haves, I unraveled the story I told myself about who I was in the past and discovered the story of who I was becoming now and it was nothing short of liberating.

If not now, when?
Figuring out what I wanted to do rather than what I ought to do was not an easy dilemma to solve. Each step I took was the step before what might be, and after moving forward little by little through the shadows, I emerged into the light of my next adventure. I decided to do what I liked to do most, what brought me joy: write, take photographs and travel, which led to creating French Country Adventures, my slow travel company. Traveling slowly is what I like to do.

When all is said and done, will I have said more than I’ve done?
That’s doubtful. We’re only here for a short while and as the poet Mark Strand said, “…it’s such a lucky accident to have been born that we’re almost obliged to pay attention.” Travel changes you. It marks your heart deeply and permanently and it can be a powerful journey of self-discovery and revelation.

Why is the line I’m in always the slowest?
Since living in the rural countryside I am often reminded that we learn about life by relating to others. I was in the post office the other day at the end of a very long line. Each person ahead of me had something to tell the postal clerk when they reached the counter, some little tid-bit of gossip or news about their family. I could have grown impatient as most foreigners do, but I waited and waited and waited, joining in the greeting of, “Bonjour Messieurs-dames” to everyone that entered. I finally reached the counter after what seemed like an eternity. An old, arthritic woman was putting each separate piece of change into her purse, coin by coin. When she turned to leave she smiled broadly radiating the delight she felt at being able to accomplish such a simple task and I realized there’s nothing to do with a life, but live it.

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