For months I have worked to read at the iconic Parisian bookshop, Shakespeare and Company.
My publisher and my media person, Keith Kelly, have also contacted them to no avail. So tonight, a band of participants from my program Unfolding in Paris: a writing, spiritual exploration and tour of the city of lights will occupy Shakespeare and Company.
I will not read inside but in front of the store!
After deciding our plan of action, I am flooded with a variety of fears. Will the bookshop call the police? Will we be fined? Will they come out and send us away like common panhandlers? We do not know, but brave souls that we are, we will risk embarrassment and an unlikely incarceration.
A few people are mingling in front of the bookshop when we arrive. The sign, announcing the author who will talk inside the bookshop later tonight, stands propped up near the door.
I step in front of it and begin to read.
My selection from Unfolding is the chapter Mirror. It includes these words… “Inside of us is the desire to unfold. The world we were born into also has that as its agenda. To unfold takes tremendous courage, time, and wise support.”
More people gather as I read. Several women hang on every word. I feel them pulling for me. Their tender expressions form a lasting memory. When I finish I say, “I am reading here tonight because I had a dream of reading in this bookshop. Our dreams don’t always come to us in the form we picture. But if we keep trying we receive something that is often beyond what we could imagine. If you have a dream, don’t give up on it.”
Afterwards a woman walks up to me. She looks me in straight in the eye and says, “Thank you for doing that.” Her response touches me. I do not know what my message means for her, but it did mean something. I am sure of that.
What I thought I wanted was recognition. The part of me that doesn’t feel smart enough, clever enough or good enough often longs for evidence that I am smart enough, clever enough, and good enough. But, recognition was not what I received.
I was given heartfelt appreciation. It landed inside of me like a priceless pearl. I will always treasure my moments in front of that famous bookshop.
We all seek unspoken affirmations. “If we just had this or could do that we will finally know we are okay.” Yet, at our core we are already there — already whole, worthwhile, and perfect. To act from there, without seeking a stamp of approval liberates us. I have glimpses and moments when that happens. Trusting myself and daring to be more of me is when I touch that truth.
We want trust to come first. We want to know that we are okay and then we will step out there with our dream. It doesn’t often, maybe never, happen in that order. Step out and then the trust will appear. This is how I express what it means to dare more in the introduction to Unfolding…
“It takes audacity to resist the urge to settle into complacency. It requires repeated leaps into the unknown. Courageous choices that proclaim our essence are both risky and rewarding.
Daring more … reveals us.”
And as a friend said, “This is really a story about you occupying you.”
She is right!
Isn’t that what daring is about?
Isn’t that what we mean when we say “Showing Up?”