Paris, Île-de-France, France

July 15, 2016

Nice, and a Hand Up.

I was planing to write a letter this coming week with a lot of love for Paris, a big announcement on my future, and share some stuff I’m so excited about.

But then Nice, France.

I spent Bastille Day sitting on the Champ-de-Mars, right in front of the Eiffel Tower. Watched the most spectacular, emotional, and uplifting fireworks show I’ve seen in my life. I cried. I felt hope for humanity. Felt patriotic. And I’m not French.

Later that night, I went to one of the “Fireman’s Balls” - a traditional event held every year, in firehouses all across the country. There’s a donation barrel, music, dancing, lots of champagne, and happy, wonderfully drunk firemen.

I checked my phone at the ball, and saw texts pouring in from friends halfway across the world. Had I seen the news? Was I ok? I googled "France news" on my phone. Saw what was happening in Nice.

I left, walked home stunned, up the stairs to my apartment, sat down, and poured a bourbon. My emotions swirled from sadness to anger to helplessness, and back again.

Today, walking around, feeling the city, Paris is bruised. Like me, the city wears its heart on its sleeve. We’re all wandering around the streets, trying to make sense of the senseless.

Stories like this are happening too often these days, all across the planet. We’re hearing louder and louder rhetoric, voices filled with hatred and fear, every single day. Some of it is simply the way technology has changed the ability of one voice to be amplified - the crazier, the louder. But there’s an unrest, too. A feeling of storm clouds rolling in, and all of us powerless to stop them.

Against that backdrop, I’ve tried to write to you about what I see out here all across the world. That every person I’ve met in these travels has been lovely, kind, just like you. That they care about each other, making a better world for their kids and their friend’s kids, and that genuinely really, we’re all in this together and we know it.

But today I’m a bit more shaken, and if I put on a fake happy face, you’d see through it anyhow.

Like France, I will eventually get back up, continue on, and do great things. But right now, it’s time to absorb the blow, take a deep breath, and process the loss.

...

After I wrote that, I left my apartment and just started walking - to be with the city.

Throughout these travels, I’ve always had a deep connection with place. The city, the land, the spirit of a place - and Paris is no exception.

I made my way out to the banks of the Seine and sat down. I watched the people move, and the river traffic flow. And I noticed something interesting.

Everyone was affected by what had happened - but they were still out, still doing their thing. I got the sense that some people were out specifically to be out.

Paris; France, does not bend or cow or break or lose its dignity. It stands.

And there, on the banks of the Seine, in the spirit of the city and the people who make it, I found something I didn’t even know I was looking for.

A hand up.

We were not ok.

But we were together.

Standing.

I got up, walked around town, and realized the responsibility that comes with being on your feet. Help others up.

So here’s a hand, just for you.

On your feet.

We’re not ok. But we’re in this together. Let’s go get everyone else.

Love,

-Steven

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