As I walked along a covered pathway towards COP 21’s “Les Spaces Générations Climat” (the visitor’s section for 2015 Paris climate negotiations), I stumbled upon a thin, middle-aged French man. He is about 1.75m tall, light brown hair and with a young gentle face. He greeted me with a gentle smile and said “Hello.” “Hello,” I replied. I extended him my hand, introduced myself and added a “nice to meet you.” “François,” he told me his name. “Where are you from?,” he asked. “Lisbon, you?”“I’m from Auvergne, central France. Why are you here at COP21?,” he kindly inquired. “I’m a writer and photographer and decided to come check out COP21. How about you?”
“I just came here to Smile.”
Stupefied, I paused for a few seconds.
My recently self-constructed ego as a writer and photographer was pierced and shattered into little, little pieces. Before I set out for Paris, I had convinced myself that I was going to become a writer and photographer. Yes this was my new identity – covered with layers and layers of illusions and delusions.
I was cleansed by this humble man.
I was humbled by this humble man.
My heart was pierced by this humble man.
As I tried gathering myself together, I replied, “That’s beautiful.”
As we continued walking the long pathway, he voiced out “Mother Earth is very happy that people are all gathering here looking for solutions.” My mind was still trying to resist, who is this guy? Is he crazy?
We entered the main gate and walked towards the security check area. I looked at him and noticed that he had come to this event barefoot. Past memories of India flashed in my mind, images of barefoot pilgrims heading to places of worship.
After seeing me noticing him being barefoot, he said “We humans have created such a hard environment for ourselves. Look at this floor, it’s so hard and uncomfortable. We can feel it when we are barefoot. When we walk the Earth’s soil, it’s so soft and welcoming.”
I nodded my head in agreement and smiled.
He walked in front of me towards the security checkpoint. I humbly followed behind him. As he passed through the security, I noticed him slowly strolling away. We didn’t even say bye to each other, I thought to myself. I notice the message at the back of his sweat-shirt. It says, “Je suis chez moi. Je suis arrivé.” Through my limited skills in French, I translated to myself, “I am at home. I have arrived.”
I finally Smile. Yes I hope that one day I will join you my friend…