By Sparrow Butler
The way I view life while in Paris or when traveling has caused me to view life here in Pensacola differently, too. Could you imagine how sweet every day would be going to our classes if we saw every person we encountered as a way to share light and be love?
Seeing as this will be my last semester at PSC, I find it only fitting to reflect on what I learned through my travels this summer, which has made me better appreciate our college.
For those of you who read my column, you were probably expecting some thrilling story about adventure. However, my travels this summer, which ended rather abruptly, have brought me back here, to the presence of so many teachers I admire and classes I am excited to participate in.
This May, I was in Paris and was supposed to continue traveling around Europe for a month. Life felt aligned for the first time in a long time, but I didn’t realize that Thursday, sipping coffee and watching dogs cheerily pass by the window of a tiny Parisian cafe that it was going to be my last day in Paris for the summer.
I left that little coffee shop full of naive hope and marched towards my next destination.
As my feet entered Luxembourg Garden, my eyes were hyper-aware of the number of statues which surrounded me in the midst of so much history and tranquility. The statues stood still, frozen in time – away from any current chaos looming around me or waiting to attack me. For a moment, I felt as though I, too, was one of the statues.
Moments after soaking in the serenity of the captivating Paris I had always known, my world was, momentarily, moved, and in the same second, my ideas of Paris were forever shifted.
With news of an emergency back home lighting up my phone, I knew what I needed to do. The trip I had traveled so far to experience and the life that was yet to be restored in me was all about to come to a close. I wasn’t one of those statues that stand still in the midst of a garden, and I couldn’t stay frozen in time. I needed to go home and deal with the pain that was haunting my family, so I left Paris early.
An inner conflict took place that day on French soil. Being in Paris wasn’t about taking a vacation. I knew how much growing and mending my soul desperately needed, and I thought Paris was going to help me with that.
I’ll be the first to admit it! I am one of those people who try to leave town when things get hard. Countless texts to my friends and family after a bad day read, “What a day! Can we just go to the airport and take the next flight anywhere?”
No, it’s not the cheapest form of therapy, but it is one that has worked for me in the past.
Honestly, before this summer, I thought Paris was one big, unmovable, statue, and I thought when I entered into its presence that I, too, could become stable.
I remember once writing, “It’s not that bad things don’t happen in Paris, it’s that there’s no reason to pay attention to the bad because there is always good hidden somewhere on the next corner.”
I realized after this trip that bad things will happen, they happen in Paris, and they happen at home. Some issues while traveling are easy enough to overlook with the right amount of distraction, and others are like flaming arrows which you must take a moment, or moments, to overcome, just like in real like.
Paris is not a statue like I thought it was, just as I am not a statue like I had wanted to be.
Traveling is an experience that is alive and evolving, and it is beautiful because it is real, not because it is perfect. These college years are fleeting. Whether you’re a freshman just starting college or this is your last semester at PSC, I hope you’ll view our campus as a little escape from the rest of the world.
School isn’t always fun, and traveling doesn’t always end up being what you’d want it to be either. There is always something to learn from new environments, and PSC has been a great place for me to “travel around” and meet new people.
So, welcome to campus, fellow classmates. Just like the memories we open ourselves up to make while traveling, let’s give ourselves a chance to make this semester one we will remember when we’re old and gray.