Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Heart's GPS...

     While I was scrolling through some posts on Diane Walker's blog recently, I came across this little cartoon. It made me smile and it reminded  me of my recent trip to France. I'm sure she won't mind if I borrow it for this post (with a reminder for you to visit her blog, it is always inspiring! There is a link to it in the right side bar.).

    I'm always amazed at the little signs you sometimes find at famous places telling you to "Stand here for the best view".  It also amazes me how little time the average person spends at any given spot preferring a more "hit and run" approach.  It's as if they were on some kind of wild scavenger hunt and the person who collects the most photographs wins!  Anyone who has been following this blog for any amount of time knows that "hurry up" is not a concept a contemplative photographer understands or appreciates!

     While I was in Paris this summer I found myself continually referring to my heart's was often at odds with the day's agenda of tourist stops. After all, I was traveling with a group of friends none of whom were contemplative photographers - or photographers of any sort in fact.  They were there, as most tourists are, to see the most they could and they all carried their guide books like sacred texts...Rick Steves would be proud; I, on the other hand, was just amused.   I suppose you can't help but be influenced by the tourist guides...after all, can you possibly visit Paris and NOT go to the top of  the Eiffel Tower?  The answer to that is,"Yes you can!" and I'm here to testify that it is perfectly alright!

The Pilgrim's Scallop Shells - Musee de Cluney
    After visiting the Musee de Cluney together, my friend and I parted company.  While she hurried off to take a boat trip on the Seine so she could see the highlights of Paris, I wandered the streets in the Latin quarter.  I wasn't ignoring the "highlights" (like the Eiffel Tower) altogether but I wanted to see a more personal aspect of Paris.  The tower is the supreme icon of Paris but for me it was insignificant in contrast with all the rest of the exclamation point which comes at the end of a long and richly evocative parable of history and tradition, style and sophistication, faith and fashion.  I needed to find my own approach to Paris that would reflect my contemplative nature and still respect my friends rather fast paced agenda.  For an afternoon, I became a "Flaneau", a wanderer on the streets of Paris.  In my next two posts I will share the results of that afternoon of wandering and the wonderful experience I had because I followed my heart's GPS and not the guidebook.

   Finally, I am adding a link to a Sounds True podcast from my favorite contemporary philosopher, the late John O'Donohue...The Sound of the Heart Beat.  At first hearing, the relevance to my brief time as a" Flaneau" in Paris didn't resonate with me but like most of my experience as a contemplative photographer, sitting and reflecting over time brings a clarity that is sometimes startling.  For now, just listen to the podcast and enjoy!


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