Recent events in Paris

Please excuse typos and the likes, this isn’t a post I particularly feel like editing, so you get it as a stream of consciousness — warts and all. 

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of what happened in Paris (if you haven’t, now might be a good time to nip out from under your rock to do a quick Google search).

To say that it’s been a shock is an understatement. My brother lives in Paris as do a few of my cousins. Everyone is fine, even though they live near the area of the attacks. My brother sent us a map showing how close the Bataclan (scene of the concert shootings) is to his appartment — it’s a ten minute walk.

Worse, my cousin and his friend were due to go to one of the restaurants that was attacked (Le Castillon). At the last minute his friend decided she fancied Chinese. They were still very close to the scene, and had to spend the night hiding behind the metal shutters the restaurant owner pulled down as soon as the attacks started, but they were otherwise unhurt.

It seems utterly crazy that the choice of Chinese food versus French food meant life rather than death. How can you make sense of that?

In an email my father sent me my and siblings, he said ‘Que faire pour se protéger de ces fous?’ (what to do to protect ourselves against these madmen?)

It’s something that I’ve kept coming back to. The thing is, you can do everything right. You can eat healthy, not drink or smoke, be a responsible driver, exercise. You can be a good, kind person who helps those around you, who cares and tries to make a difference.

But then you choose French food instead of Chinese…

What can you do against that? How can you protect yourself?

Never go out? Leave the big cities and bury yourself in the country? Never take a train or a plane again?

I spent an entire morning doing very little and going over this. Of course arbitrary death is nothing new. We live in a world of tsunamis and earthquakes, of terrible bombings and planes disappearing from the sky. I guess from a personal point of view, it’s just a shock to realise that I could have lost my cousin if his friend hadn’t had a craving for Chinese food.

A craving for Chinese food. How crazy is it that something so insignificant could mean such a life changing and life saving difference?

It’s so arbitrary, it’s a flip of the coin. How can you protect against a coin flip?

You can’t. You can do everything right but still it won’t make any difference when that coin gets tossed.

I took a long detour that morning through ‘What’s The Point?’, and eventually realised that there isn’t a point per se. Not to any of it. Life is random and arbitrary and unfair. In the face of that, all we can do is keep on living and make the best and fullest possible use of our time, whatever that means to each of us.

In the face of life and death coming down to a choice between Chinese food vs French food, the only thing to do is not delay.