Until last week, the idea of visiting Paris still seemed entirely a romantic affair. The city of lights, with its bustling boulangeries, open air cafes, and meandering Seine River, has for centuries been a destination for intellectuals, artists, gastronomes, or anyone simply seeking out French culture.
November 14th cemented a new reality for not only Paris, but the world, when coordinated terrorist attacks rocked the capital, claiming 129 lives. For at least a generation, these recent events paint the darkest contrast of the French capital to the Paris we know and love. Probably not since 911 has there been a moment when we again are forced to think on such a level about the risk and reward of travel, a very personal choice each of us must make.
But what we should remember is that being bold, facing our fears, and following our dreams are romantic things, and that Paris is a monument to these ideals.
Paris embodies the human experience, built over centuries and frozen in time, standing tall, open, and bold, for us to envelope ourselves in and learn from. Its works are a testament to countless fulfilled dreams, its bullet holes from a time long passed, a record of its citizen’s bravery. Paris lives at this present moment with pride, strength, and resilience, but continues with the traditions and culture that make it special. Should we not also?
We choose to travel because it adds to our life experience. We are so fortunate, many of us, to have such license over our lives, to have amazing influence over what our experiences and outcomes will be. It’s our choice as free people. So remember that by following our dreams, we are driven, rewarded, strengthened, and ultimately shaped into who we will become. Follow your dreams wherever they may take you – if it’s Paris, you’ll be in good company.