I had set out early, with a plan to arrive at Bayonne in the evening, in preparation to travel to St Jean Pied de Port the next day. Instead, I found myself in Paris, seeking a safe and comfortable room at Mama Shelter, designed by Phillpe Starcke.
There are worse things than being stuck in Paris although it did not feel like that at the time. A technical issue with the SNCF (French rail company) site meant that my ticket had not been issued and I was unable to purchase a ticket beyond Paris on the train. When I attended the train station to resolve the matter, I was informed that the train actually departed from Montparnasse, a twenty – thirty-minute ride away – I missed the last train to Bayonne.
Exploring alternative options of an overnight train to Toulouse or Bordeaux, I found myself craving the comfort of my apartment – wifi – give me access to the net to resolve this problem. Ten years ago I would taken the overnight train or at least carried Lonely Planet and followed a map to walk to a near by hotel. What happened to the spirit of adventure I had as a student? I now found myself completely disconnected without wifi and the only hotel that I could recall in Paris was the boutique line, Mama Shelter that I had stayed in four years ago in Marseille. Wanting a hot shower, wifi and a safe space to refocus, I jumped in a cab which turned out to be an hour ride due to a ‘manifestation’ (about changes to labour / employment laws) unfolding on the streets of Paris. While pleased to learn that liberte, egalite, and fraternite are still alive, I was almost in tears. I used my yoga practise to find out what this experience was teaching me and in that moment of despair realised three valuable lessons:
#1 – Don’t rush: life, or any precious moment – I had set out so excited to arrive at my destination that morning I risked not enjoying the journey. In fact, the next morning when I returned to Montparnasse, there were no tickets for the early train, forcing me to explore the streets, much quieter on Sunday, where I found a hotel (by designer Rive Giueche) just minutes from the station! Had I been present and calmer the evening before, I probably would have saved myself 40 euros and the anxiety!
#2 – Let go of comfort and attachment – getting used to a certain lifestyle it is easy to become anxious when we no longer have access – for example a warm, comfortable bed or social media, the internet, that allow us to be constantly on and connected.
#3- Be a change agent – under pressure I sought the familiarity of a hotel that I had stayed at, of good repute and style. Maybe the same reason I started the walk in Milan and was intent on avoiding Paris. Had I explored I would have found something new and stepped outside of my comfort zone, a massive lesson because the experience made me see that maybe I had actually gotten to comfortable with my own life and I wondered where else I may have resisted change and missed something that could have been right in front of me, due to my rigid thinking or attachment? I suppose that is the reason I am doing the camino and I am sure that there will be more lessons to come.
What have you learned through adventure or misadventure in your travels?