I had originally been planning to write a Paris post last week, even before the deplorable attacks that shook the city. I had been there just a month ago and had crafted a fun post highlighting the experience. That lighthearted post now seems grossly inappropriate considering the city still reels from last week’s shootings and explosions that left it reeking of death and fear.
Truly, there is nothing more I could say that hasn’t been said already. I have, disturbingly, written once this year about terror attacks in this same city, so there’s no need to reiterate my disgust of such things and my abhorrence of those who commit such acts. The world agrees with the sentiment and it has all been said.
Discussing the events and expressing anger are natural and cathartic, so I certainly do not wish to deny anybody that process. However, while I mourn the lost lives and keep the injured in my thoughts, I also choose to express gratitude for a multitude of things.
First, I’m grateful to have experienced the beauty, charm and culture of Paris, both during two previous trips and this most recent one. Upon hearing the breaking news of the attacks last Friday, I grew nauseous. During my most recent trip, I had stayed in someone’s apartment in the 10th arrondissement, just blocks away from where some of the restaurants attacks and the music venue attack occurred. Repeatedly, I walked past those locations and observed Parisians and tourists alike going about their daily lives and enjoying eating, drinking, laughing and talking with others. I am grateful for having witnessed this beauty in a neighborhood that would be heavily marred by ugliness a few weeks later.
Even though I try to keep my own to a minimum, I’m grateful for the rage we express about the terrorism. In a world that sometimes appears to be teeming with callous, self-centered inhabitants, it’s refreshing to see such an outpouring of emotion. Witnessing the grief and agitation flowing from my fellow humans is oddly heartwarming and restores my faith in humanity. So prevalent is tragedy in everyday life, it could easily allow us to grow blind to others’ pain and suffering.
Along those lines, I am not only grateful for the emotions expressed, but also that we are allowed to express them. So many people throughout the world do not share the freedom to openly emote and engage in a public discourse about events. No political system is perfect, by any means, but I am grateful to live under one that offers me the freedom to express my agreement/disagreement/love/hate. I am also grateful to see that in such difficult times, many people can set aside political and ideological differences and comfort each other.
I am, perhaps most importantly, grateful for supportive family and friends. How lucky I am to have people in my life who care for me daily. How lucky I am to have loved ones reach out to tell me they are infinitely glad my Paris was moved up and didn’t end up being in November after all. I am grateful to be surrounded by such loving, thoughtful, kind people.
I leave you with the hopeful, honest, simple words a wise friend offered me following the recent Paris tragedy: “Goodness and love always will trump this kind of darkness.”
I truly believe it will.