Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stories and Paris

My husband and I went to Paris recently for a wonderful, though brief, vacation. After our arrival, and a nap to return us to humanity, we headed to Notre Dame. It would be, I thought, a good place to visit without having to think too much.

We approached from Ile de la Cite, crossing to Ile St Louis at the back of the cathedral. And the bells were ringing. My heart and soul filled with the sound, it echoed in the tingling of my fingertips and toes. The line to enter, we discovered, was quite long. Instead, we spent our time scrutinizing the exterior, the statue of Charlemange (talk about 'staches! but that's a different story), and the buildings & people visible in and around the square.

For me, Notre Dame is a great representation of one of the reasons I love Paris. Walking the square, eyeing the gargoyles, being there, I connect to the stories of ages past - of its creators, real and fictionalized accounts of life in days gone by. I feel a part of something big and long-lived. I feel closer to those who inhabit these stories, as well as those that I see around, and those who have been before.

It is energizing, a rush, and can become overwhelming.

It brings to mind a brief synopsis I read of Stowe Boyd's talk on Social Cognition from the 140 Characters conference in June. I have just found this link and plan to read it more and report back. I think stories are a key element of the connections he is talking about.

Stories are powerful tools that, as I've said before, help us to process our experiences and to pass our learnings and culture on to others, to create and explore identity and a whole slew of other things (running out of time for this post).

Adding another layer of contact - standing beneath the gargoyles or shaking a hero's hand - boosts the power of stories exponentially. It brings them home and puts us inside them.

I have to take this somewhere.

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