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.

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29 thoughts on “Recent events in Paris

  1. Celine, praise be that your brother and cousins are safe. It’s true, stuff happens right out of the blue, a left hand turn instead of a right one, Chinese food instead of other … hard to make any kind of sense out of these seemingly random choices ..

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    • Thank you.
      And yes it really is hard to make sense of such events. Random events happen all the time but for it was the first time that something so random ended up meaning such a huge difference. My family was very lucky but it’s awful to think of all those people who made just as random a choice and weren’t so lucky.

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  2. I am so glad that your brother and cousin were spared. There are no answers at time like this, no explanations. The world grieves over the lives lost and rejoices in those saved and spared. Then, we try to make sense of our surroundings again.

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  3. Well said! You have come to a very wise conclusion. Keep on living and don’t allow them to curtail your lives. We can’t make sense of their violence because there is no sense. (I also have a cousin and her family in Paris – all safe.)

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  4. Chère Céline ❤ Je suis contente que ta famille soit sain et sauf. Tu as raison — Le monde est fou, mais on peut continuer à aimer, jouer, rire et vivre nos vies d'une manière passionnante. Ça, c'est notre pouvoir ! Mes pensées et mes prières sont avec toi et avec la France. 🇫🇷

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    • Merci pour ton message Kelli. As-tu des amis a Paris? J’espère que tous les tiens sont sauf aussi. J’ai lu un article disant que c’est futile d’essayer d’amener une guerre de ‘lifestyle’ en France parce que les Français sont les champions quand il s’agit d’avoir une bonne vie, une bonne qualité de vie. C’est donc une guerre qui ne peut qu’etre perdue. J’ai beaucoup aimé ca, c’est tres vrai. Il faut continuer a vivre et aimer et passer la meilleure vie possible si on veut les vaincre.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a horrific event. I’m sorry to hear you were so closely affected by it. How scary that must be for your family and you. Every time something like this happens we get more guarded. And of course we still go out and live life, but with more caution and wariness than before.

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  6. It’s scary, and it’s nonesensical, and still we need to find a sense in it if we want to try and make something right out of this.
    Fear, our fear and confusion is the first thing we need to fight.
    Coraggio Celine.
    I’m so happy at least your family didn’t have to suffer for this madness.

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  7. Ah yes. What if? What if they decided on French food versus Chinese? You can drive yourself crazy with those thoughts.

    One school of thought says that when your time it up, it’s up. On the converse side of this, if your time isn’t up, suddenly that restaurant won’t seem as appetizing. You won’t know why. And if you don’t talk yourself out of that weird hankering for Chinese food, you’ll be out of harm’s way without realizing that’s what you did.

    Which is why when I suddenly want to take a different way home, I’ll make that left turn instead. Or I’ll stop for food or not stop for food when I change my mind at the last minute. Who knows why I suddenly want something different? I hope I never find out.

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    • I generally talk myself out of those random changes but I’m now thinking I should go with them going forward rather than always stick to routine / the plan / the sensible thing. Clearly there are times when those cravings have a reason, and as you say, maybe it’s best not to question those changes of mind and just go with them…
      (Although part of me then goes into the whole ‘but what if the craving is wrong and makes me go the wrong way’. The what if really can’t be won.)

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  8. It is so scary, because it is so random. There isn’t a reason, and our rational brains don’t like that. We want to figure out the puzzle, so, like you say, we can protect ourselves. But there isn’t always a puzzle, and that’s hard to fathom. Your conclusion is a sound one–we can only live our lives as best we can with what we have right now.

    I’m so glad your brother and cousins are safe. *hugs*

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  9. That’s it: not to delay, Celine. Seize the day. That’s all we can do. There’s always something to get us in the end, one way or the other. My thoughts and prayers are for those left behind and for those seriously wounded. Glad you and your family are OK. Be safe.

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    • Thank you Sam. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those families who weren’t lucky.
      And yes although most of us will hopefully get caught up in something as horrible as the Paris attack, as you say there will be something in the end, so we have to go for it while we can.

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  10. Celine, I am so relieved and thankful that your family is okay! This event has been horrifying and much discussed here. You have put it so eloquently – “the only thing to do is not delay.” We must live to the fullest as much as we can, so we can bring positive things to the world, especially in the face of such madness. Take care my friend!

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  11. Coucou Céline!
    Petite pensée pour toi en ce 31 décembre 🙂 J’ai commencé à lire “The viper and the Urchin”. J’aime beaucoup, on est bien en immersion dans la ville, à Damsport. Maman le lit aussi. Je te fais un petit mail pour t’en dire plus.

    Sinon oui, la nourriture chinoise n’aura plus jamais la même histoire pour nous!

    Bisous, très bon réveillon et à bientôt!
    Martin

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