When you return from a month living in Paris, France, everyone asks you how wonderfully it went. They want to hear their personal expectations matched and exceeded in your experience. But that's not what I can offer.
I can't say "oh yes! I did all of these beautiful things" or "oh yes, I went to all of those beautiful places."
People aren't interested in hearing about how it took me three weeks to feel comfortable in a simple grocery store line, or four weeks to stop glancing over my shoulder whenever I spoke, fearful of someone hearing me speak English. They want to hear of grand feasts, not simple hot-plate soups...of grand adventures, not step-out-the-door wanders in no particular direction.
I absolutely understand where they're coming from, and I am also proud of these struggles and simple pleasures.
They mean that I was engaged in the hard work of being still -- of stepping away from all of the yelling voices in my head demanding "action!" "striving!" and "results!" Sitting still certainly doesn't make the voices go silent, but if you remain still long enough, they fade to whispers and let you rest and wonder at the beauty of a fallow field...the small moments that drop into your lap unsought...the sweet joys of noticing a new little detail.
After all, isn't waiting the artist's hardest work? It's why we walk into museums and think "I could have done that" all the while sharply aware that we didn't and wouldn't...not because we couldn't, but because we didn't sit and wait for the piece to come.
This disincline doesn't make for beautiful photography or catchy social media posts, but that, dear friend, is entirely the point. Art and beauty must be sewn first and let to rest. It is only waiting and trusting in what we cannot see that brings the harvest.
Yes, we must work to set it gently into carefully tended soil and water it to encourage growth, but we ourselves do not create the seedlings or the plant...we can only tend, watch, and wait.
And that is what I am slowly slowly learning to do.