Tonight, my heart is aching. I had a completely different topic in mind for the blog, but I am so overcome by the horrible events in Paris that I can’t think about anything else.
In all of my years in NYC, I hoped that nothing like this would happen again to my city and its people, my friends and neighbors. Living in a world class city, you constantly live with the knowledge somewhere in the back of your head that the worst could happen, that you’re, in way, living with a target on your back. It’s something you do your best to ignore so you can go about your day, but in the same breath, you’re always being told ‘if you see something, say something’, you’re always aware and slightly on edge. I was lucky enough to never have anything major happen to me personally, but when something did go wrong it was amazing to see the faceless, endless masses filing by suddenly become faces, hands, and hearts. A woman passed out cold and injured herself on a packed train at rush hour and 10 strangers jumped into action, doing what we could to help her. I realized I had a peeping tom, and my neighbors did everything they could to help me feel safe. Someone got robbed and the crowd down the street heard the commotion and, as a group, blocked the guy from getting away until the cops arrived. The hard candy shelled New Yorkers around you day in and day out in the street, on the train, in stores and restaurants aren’t just bodies in the way, they are also part of the same team, they’re extended family (dysfunctional as it may be) and nothing brings that into focus like when something bad happens. As obnoxious and suffocating as the crowds around you every day in that city can be, every now and again they transform into family when they need to, and it is a beautiful thing to see the differences that exist between people – religion, race, sex, whatever – disappear in the face of adversity. No matter what may separate us, our hearts all want the same thing.
Now that I’ve been away from New York for a while, I’m reading about this awful attack and feel physically ill at the thought of what has happened to all of those Parisians – scared, their streets and homes violated, lives knocked off center, and sense of safety ripped away – and I hope that they are able to look to one another for safety and comfort, too. I am sending my thoughts to them, to those that have passed and their friends and families, and to those that perpetrated these terrifying acts as well, because I can’t help but believe that in the end the human heart wants, above all else, peace. I think every person craves a safe space, a way to live with the ones they love, to be happy and healthy. For whatever reason, some hearts go awry and throw off that balance. But equilibrium returns, those who do wrong (hopefully) find punishment, and peace returns, albeit slightly more bittersweet.
I believe in the human heart’s love of balance and harmony and the good in others.
I believe that, as different as we are in our minds, our bodies, our beliefs, and a billion other ways, we are all the same at our deepest level, in our hearts.
I believe that we all truly crave peace.
And that belief is what is keeping me afloat tonight.