Paris, oh Paris. I mourn for those who died that night, for those who were injured, and for every single person in the city who is experiencing the trauma of these events. I wish there were something I could do to make the pain go away but sadly, pain exists. It’s our work to reconcile that pain with the love we feel for Paris.
Paris is a glorious hub of expression and freedom. For a long time, it’s been a place where people go to be free, to discover themselves and to express their truth. I have been leading annual creativity workshops for ten years in Paris, and it’s always a source of inspiration for me and my students.
Paris is a city of unstoppable beauty and grace, from the elegant Hausmann buildings and boulevards to the tiniest detailed swirl on a manhole cover.
And, Paris is also a city with a long history of violence, from the Bastille uprising to the French revolution to the Nazi occupation.
When I visit Europe, the history of intense violence there is always present alongside the beauty of the present day.
When I stroll through Paris, savoring the scents and sights, coming upon another plaque commemorating someone who was gunned down by the Nazis…violence and hatred are there.
When I zoom around the Place de la Concord on bike, my joy rides alongside the knowledge of the many people who lost their lives to the guillotine there.
This is our world. Unimaginable violence jockeying with glorious beauty. How do we reconcile the two?
My life’s work is devoted to helping people express what is inside them. To write books. To make art. To build businesses. My hope is that the creative work we do contributes to the side of the equation that is a force of good and light. That somehow, the doodles we make, the essays we write, the fictions we craft make this world a better place, even if we don’t know how exactly.
Paris is a magnet for people who come to express themselves. It’s beyond unfortunate that some people express themselves by harming others. Expressing ourselves at the harm of others is never okay. Bullying, domestic abuse, gun-wielding expression are not okay. They are the lowest form of expression, expression that exists only in its ability to debase others.
Paris, like all places, houses the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. I don’t know how to reconcile the violence with the beauty. I can only stand for love, beauty and the power of creative expression.
Stand with me. Express yourself. Express your truth. Express your love. Peace.