Laying in bed with the windows open my heart was unsettled. Police were storming the Bataclan while I laid in bed. People took hostages and were attacking people because they want to instill fear. People hating people because they are a different ethnicity, faith, tongue and that broke, and is breaking my heart.
The next morning, I rushed to my phone, not to catch up on last nights events but to see if my long time pen pal was still making the trip to Paris. We planned for months to meet up and after writing letters back and forth for 15 years, we really wanted to do a face to face. Much to my my surprise, she texted to let me know that she and her SO were on the train and would be in Paris by 11 am!
According to our American embassy in France, the French government, and pretty much my entire family back in Texas; we should have stayed inside. But I didn’t want to end our 2 week vacation in a french flat in downtown Paris. The streets were unremarkably less crowded, metro, was easy to navigate and while we went out, it seemed like most tourists were not. My in laws were on the TGV out to Strasbourg to spend the day enjoying french/german beer, wine & a boat tour on the Rhine.
After the attacks, the government closed all the national monuments were closed; no museums, no eiffel tower, no arc de triumph, no nothing. The shops on the street where our flat was located were mostly closed, a few markets were open for grocery shopping and coffee but that was about it. We roamed around Paris with our new & long time friends- depending on how you want to look at it, visiting Sacre Couer- which was open for visitors and prayer and walking around Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and ending with a great cup of coffee at a cafe near the Bastille. Glad to spend the day with friends who commonly come to the city only on business!
So, with all the violence in the world why? Why did we go out and spend all day enjoying the streets of Paris with our new friends? Why am I still passionate to continue traveling regardless of what the world looks like?
While terrorists aim to instill fear in the world, which as an American, it’s totally working, trust me I know and you probably too know many people who fear leaving our boarders. When in fact, I felt safer in Paris and London, in Greece and Israel than I do in certain parts of my own neighborhood, and state.
Fear doesn’t dictate what I should or shouldn’t do. I believe life is too, damn short to live in fear. It’s too short to not go on that trip, too short to not meet up with those friends, to hike that trail, to see that piece of art, to try new things. To run that race, to write that book, to listen to that record. Instead of living in fear, I choose to live a life without regret. A life loving of the people I meet in LA, Paris, Athens, Houston, Colorado Springs…and so on.
While the majority of the world is afraid to go, I don’t feel afraid to leave America. In fact, I love the adrenaline of not knowing the language or being overly familiar with my surroundings- it’s here I am more aware. It’s like my eyes are truly open.
I travel out of love, love that God made this world and I want to experience all of it.
I travel not to places because it’s safe but because it holds something you’ve never seen, tasted, or encountered.
My international friends in the Philippines, France, England- what kind of message does it send when others too afraid to acknowledge their unique cultures, countries, histories? It seems snobbish to me. My international and national friends, remind me we are global citizens. While some believe their citizenship to their current country is higher in status than say another, I can tell you personally I do not have this belief. My ultimate citizenship belongs to God and the earth I live on. Borders only separate us.
And to live with this perspective means to actively love thy neighbor. Love my downstairs apartment neighbors, the flight attendants, the AirBNB folks we are renting from, the people we encounter at the cafe, in the metro, or on a run around Modesto.
Next week: In a World with Terrorism, Why I still Travel | part 3 – Adventure