Je t'aime, Paris.

Having just gotten back late Monday night from a trip that included a five-day stay in Paris, I am particularly rattled about the shootings this morning. In fact, upon hearing this news there were several elements that makes it tough to digest. Firstly, I had never been to Paris before last week, and now I have a very vivid aerial view of the 11th arrondissement's location. On top of that, I woke up with my husband watching the news with my mother-in-law, which is typically not how I start my day. No news. No collective oh no's. No negativity of any kind. I work hard at that. Then there is the fact that my husband and I spent time with our family while visiting. Our nieces were there. And we primarily chose to visit Paris to celebrate the new year and our first anniversary while there. The whole time, it was magical. It was perfect. After all, it was Paris.

And lastly, there was this message I wrote in the 'message of peace' dropbox at Notré Dame. At the time I felt compelled to write, though I remember thinking I didn't have anything specific to say. I can't recall exactly what I wrote on December 30, but I can remember sending a general message of peace. In the photo I took (below), you can see I wrote “Those who know it. Those who don't. Those who wonder if it even exists...”. I extended my love then and I am doing it again today. I'm thankful today that the bin of peaceful messages was completely full when I saw it. Hopefully that energy is trickling into all the hearts that are forever broken open.

It makes me think so much about all of the people who are affected by these acts of inhumanity. There are the people who were killed. I will repeat, there are the innocent people who were killed. They were so good at expressing themselves and the thoughts of others that they were employed to do just that. In every element of expression, of how beautiful and miraculous it is that human beings have the capacity to even be expressive, I find it difficult to frame a logical reference around how these people who worked at Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, are gone. Satire is a form of humor. Finding humor in life is how most of us make it through the toughest of times and most difficult of circumstances. How is this cause for murder?

Yes, you can certainly get philosophical about it. I have been all day. You can compare this to other acts of terror, war, and crime. You can dharma and karma talk your way through an acceptance speech of why it's okay and the world will still spin. But it doesn't change the fact that there were people in the world acting out of such narrow-minded thought that they arm themselves. Not only do they come bearing arms without warning, but they take further action and take the lives that some of us have so desperately fought our own hard battles just to stay alive. We pull ourselves through the depression that lingers after losing someone you love. We traipse through the mud at the end of a relationship for which we once put everything on the line and thought would last forever. We work hard to put food on the table and work harder to make sure that food is eaten at the right time with the ones we love so we are fully nourished. We fight cancer. We exercise. We love. We serve others. We live.

Today twelve people were robbed of the most beautiful collection of experiences they have had the privilege of living. They were robbed of every experience yet to come. I am personally wounded by hearing the news. And truthfully, we all are. If you don't believe it already, start to wrap your head around the fact that WE ARE ALL CONNECTED. Start to grasp the concept that if you see a woman right after you read this wearing a hijab, do not assume that she is part of this crime or has any beliefs that support what happened today. Put the humanness of your brain in check and notice if it begins to make up stories about how you should be fearful of this woman. Think of a time your heart was broken, and remember that hers is probably that way right this very minute. Let your heart hurt for her. Find compassion.

This is the practice of someone who chooses to wake up. By noticing the moment of judgement, you have given yourself a choice. You can believe the hogwash that your brain is creating. Or you can marvel at how absurd and obtuse the thought is. Realize that Muslim woman has her own food to put on the table, children to nurse, corporate ladder to climb. And then let the thought go. Enhance the experience by laughing out loud. Hell. You just might help someone else finally see how silly their past criticisms and judgements are. Maybe new leaves will turn. After all, we are all connected.

Je t'aime Paris.