Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A tale of two cities

Today was my last day in Paris. I've packed my suitcase. I'm all set to go home though I have to wait about twelve hours before I can get in the cab, say, Bonjour Monsieur, CDG airport, sil vous plait, then lean back and watch the city fade into the background. Twenty four hours from now I'll emerge on the other side of the Atlantic, dazed, grimy from the travel, but no doubt happy.

The shamanic lifestyle is strange. So much takes place beneath the surface. From the outside looking in, my shamanic ways are easy to misunderstand, such as the day I visited the Eiffel Tower. I was surprised at the energy there. I didn't expect it to feel so powerful, but it is, it really is. In an effort to better understand what was going on, I pulled Eduardo, my glow-in-the-dark skull rattle, out of my bag, began to rattle and dance around. I figured this would be perfectly acceptable since it's a circus down there. There were hordes of tourists of course, and every kind of vendor and busker. A guy right next to me was playing the theme from the film Titanic on one of those South American flutes. Some people set up small trampolines and charged money for people to bounce around for awhile. A policeman on a bicycle was selling Eiffel Tower trinkets. So you see I felt that my shamanic dancing would be overlooked.

It was overcast when I arrived, but as I danced around, the sky cleared suddenly! You can't plan that kind of timing. I stopped my dance and looked up in awe and appreciation. Just then a woman approached and handed me a Euro. I was confused, and laughed, handed it back to her - I hope I didn't embarrass her. It took me awhile to figure out she thought I was busking. Well, why wouldn't she? Busking is everywhere in Paris. This morning I saw an organ grinder next to a Metro station. There was no monkey, thank god, but he did have two Pomeranians leashed to the organ. I've heard operatic singing, seen a French horn player, a gypsy band, a trumpeter and a guy playing a soulful clarinet in the subway this week.

See the people taking a selfie at the lower right?

I was not busking, however. My shamanic dancing is a part of my spiritual practice. How could I have expected that nice woman to understand? Even I don't really get it.

The truth is, it kind of made my day when that happened.

There have been a number of memorable experiences like that this week, also memorable experiences that are painful, such as seeing the filthy man with no legs dragging himself across the floor of the Metro train. He didn't even have a little cart with wheels. There was the angel faced young girl of maybe 10 years who approached me the day I went up to Montmartre. She started trying to engage me in conversation, saying she needed to practice her very poor English. My head was shaking back and forth - no, no. I said NON! But she came closer. She was trying to maintain eye contact, but my instincts warned me not to let myself be entranced. Even as I said NON! and turned to walk away, her tiny, greasy hand tried to slip into my bag. I slapped her hand - hard - before she could grab anything. I was wearing a ring. I'm sure it really hurt, but she didn't seem injured. She almost shrugged her shoulders as she turned to go. It was disturbing.

I wonder what her life is like? Probably not like the lives of the beautiful men, perfectly coiffed and dressed to the nines, walking around Saint-Germaine de Pres, not like my fabulous vacation life of extravagance and comfort, no. I wonder where she sleeps? Does she have a family?

Who knows?

My week here was the best of times and the worst of times. I've been bipolar all week, either flying high or feeling utterly despondent. I believe something very important happened to me here this week, but I'm quite a ways from finding a language to express whatever it was. I feel as confused as the woman who wanted to give me a tip. I know I was on the job as it were (if being a shaman is a job), but as for what actually went on under the surface, so far, I hardly understand anything about it. I know it was important. Or - I think so. Needless to say I'll be thinking about it for a long time.

Paris is sublime. Paris is difficult. I have a strong love/hate relationship with this grand dame of a city, I surely do.

I always think of DC as a very intense city, but everything is relative. Compared to Paris, DC is relaxed, uncomplicated and affordable. I can't wait to go home!


  1. What a trip, Reya. I love that you danced at the Eiffel tower, among the buskers, & that you have a sense of humor regarding the euro from the lady. Your dance must have been awesome for the sky to open up like that. I might have kept the euro as a token of the moment, but of course you had to give it back.

    Those lovelocks on European bridges? I took pics of them also, but I find them troubling more than romantic.

  2. It would have been polite for me to keep the Euro. But I was so startled. Thanks, Kerry. It was a serious trip!!

  3. wonderful wrap up and the accompanying photographs c'est parfait!!

  4. I think it will probably take a while for you to distill your experience into words and descriptions (beyond those you've already offered, which have been great)! I remember that guy on the floor of the metro, too. It's funny that as he passed us while we were talking, neither of us commented on him, but both of us noticed.

    It's funny that the Eiffel Tower turned out to be so powerful for you, as you'd been unexcited about the prospect of visiting it! You never know, right?!

  5. So true. I never know!

    And yes, we looked down at the guy - I had to move to let him through. I think it was respectful that we said nothing. I mean, what could we have said?