This month Rachelle and I are traveling through Europe again. We flew to Switzerland for the Lifestyle Design Convention in Zurich on January 10-11, where I shared stories and lessons about discovering and following a heart-centered, growth-oriented life path. The conference was a great success, and Kai Christen has already decided to host it again in January 2016.
This is the third time I’ve flown to Europe with only a one-way ticket, not knowing in advance when I’d return to the USA. Rachelle and I had no specific plans for where to go after the conference in Zurich. Our intention was simply to go with the flow of invitation and inspiration and to be open to new experiences.
During the weekend of the conference, we received about eight different invites to stay with people afterwards, mostly in other cities in Switzerland. I’ve learned from experience not to prematurely force a decision like this. I like to wait for synchronicities from the universe to emerge, and I also like to see if my intuition gives me a strong gut feeling for where to go next. When we make decisions this way, Rachelle and I are almost always in sync.
After Zurich we ended up going to Lucerne for a few days to stay with one of the other speakers. Synchronistically, when we got off the train, we soon ran into one of the other speakers from the conference, but we didn’t know he was going to Lucerne afterwards, and he didn’t know we’d be going there either.These types of “coincidences” have happened so many times when I’m in explorer mode. A couple of my Norwegian friends came to Lucerne too. So we all ended up having lunch together.
After a few days in Lucerne, Rachelle and I traveled on our own to Geneva. We enjoyed a guided tour of CERN and learned about the particle accelerators there. Then we continued on to Paris to accept an invite to stay there, which is where we are this week.
On this trip I’ve been especially touched by how kind and generous people have been with us. We’ve been in Europe since January 9th so far, and we haven’t paid for a place to stay yet. People have been so warm and welcoming in inviting us to stay in their homes — people we’d never even met before this month.
Yesterday we were trying to buy some tickets for the Paris Metro from an automated kiosk. I wanted to buy a carnet (10-pack) of tickets, but it wasn’t clear to me where that option was located in the interface, so I was delving into the menu structure to look for it. A young woman soon got into line behind us, and I offered to let her go ahead of us since I didn’t want to slow her down. She smiled and told us to take as much time as we needed. When I asked her if she knew if it was possible to use the machine to buy a carnet of tickets, she was happy to show us.
When we tried to pay for the tickets, however, the machine kept rejecting each credit card I tried. I’ve had this problem before at some automated machines in Europe that require credit or debit cards with built-in security chips. Such cards are common in Europe and Canada but not in the USA. Even with a valid PIN, I can’t get certain machines to accept my cards; they automatically decline the transaction. Usually when this happens, we just use Rachelle’s Canadian card instead.
This woman saw me failing to get the machine to accept my cards, which was the only working kiosk in this particular station. Just before I was about to give up and suggest to Rachelle that we try her card, the woman slid her own card into the machine and said she’d pay for our tickets (about 14€). As we collected the tickets, I thanked her and pulled out some cash to pay her back, but she declined to take it. She told us she knew what it was like to travel and wanted us to feel welcomed in Paris. We thanked her for her generosity and felt very touched by this act of kindness.
We would have eventually figured out how to buy a carnet on our own, gotten the machine to work with Rachelle’s card, and received our tickets just the same, but it was nice to receive a little extra help at just the right time. It’s also a nice reminder to pay it forward by looking for extra opportunities to be kind and generous with others when the opportunity arises.
Communicating With Energy
As a blogger, author, and speaker, it’s easy for me to think that communication is all about words. But words alone can be very hollow. Real communication is a form of energy transfer. When the energetic connection isn’t right, words can’t compensate for what’s missing. But when the energy is strong and genuine, the words almost don’t matter.
When I’m traveling in another country with a primary language I don’t know very well, trying to rely solely on words makes me feel bumbling and powerless. But even when I don’t have the best words, I can communicate pretty well with a positive vibe, such as friendliness, openness, curiosity, appreciation, and playfulness.
When I travel I also like to tune into what my surroundings seem to be communicating to me. One reason I want to travel even more is to listen to more of what the world has to say.
In Paris we’re staying in an apartment only a short walk from the site of the recent Charlie Hebdo shootings. We’ve been seeing extra police stationed all around the city, including on some street corners, in front of synagogues, and even walking around carrying rifles the Louvre shopping center. To me this seems more like a show of solidarity to reassure the public rather than a practical security measure.
The vibe I feel in this city isn’t one of feeling threatened or unsafe or needing reassurance. All around the city there are “Je suis Charlie” and “Nous sommes Charlie” signs, including large printed banners hanging from various buildings such as the Paris City Hall. I’d describe the vibe here as a combination of unity, compassion, and connection.
I’m not even entirely sure why we’re in Paris right now. I don’t have an obvious logical reason to be here. Rachelle and I spent two weeks here in 2011, so it’s not a new city for us to visit. But for some reason it feels right to be here now.
The vibe of appreciation is one of my most valuable companions when I travel. Without appreciation I imagine I’d have some pretty miserable experiences instead of the delightful experiences I’ve been having instead.
I appreciate the opportunity to make new friends as I travel. I appreciate new invitations, even the ones I don’t accept. I appreciate new experiences.
I appreciate a meal. I appreciate a hug. I appreciate sharing new experiences with my girlfriend.
Yesterday as Rachelle and I were exploring the Louvre, I appreciated being able to see so much amazing art. I appreciated the artists who invested in their skills to such an extent that their work endures to this day. I appreciated the ability to walk through the massive building and explore all day long.
If I was only able to speak one word of French while in Paris, it would be merci. I love this word because it reminds me that when I’m thankful and appreciative, the universe is frequently merciful with me. When I feel appreciative, kindness and generosity flow through my life with abundance.
Trusting the Universe
Here’s a fundamental question to ask yourself: Do you trust this reality?
If you don’t trust this reality, then the flavor of your life will always be about seeking security — and ultimately failing to feel secure. You’ll basically spend your whole life feeling insecure.
But if you decide to trust that reality is completely on your side, then life can take on a more relaxed, flowing, and adventurous tone. You can invite and accept new experiences without needing to know in advance where they’ll take you. You can expect and receive plenty of guidance and assistance as well.
Logically I know there’s no way to know if I can actually trust this reality or not. But I can reasonably predict how each possibility will affect the overall flavor of my life. I find the insecure path less interesting than the adventurous one, so I’ve chosen to trust the universe. It seems to respond in kind — and with kindness — when I relax and trust that it will back me up while I pursue a course that feels inspired to me. The non-trusting path just seems like a dead end.
Next week Rachelle and I are going to Malaga in southern Spain to stay with a new friend we met at the conference. This will be our first time visiting Spain. I appreciate the opportunity to visit another country, to learn, to explore, to grow, to have new experiences, and to make new friends.