Thursday, November 26, 2015

I take comfort in the beauty of nature.
My mind plays word association, and I sail along the stream of consciousness, often surprised by what surfaces.
Thoughts of what happened in Paris take me to memories of this country’s 9/11, and the thought that too many countries have too many dates marked by senseless violence and death.
My mind also delivers up a lighter memory, courtesy of the great Steve Martin. I recall one of my favorite bits from his standup days, and the Internet allows me to watch it again. (Laughter is good medicine.)
Recalling a trip he took to Paris, he offers these words of caution: 
“Let me give you a warning, if you’re going over there. Here’s an example: ‘Chapeau’ means ‘hat,’ ‘ouef’ means ‘egg.’ It’s like, those French have a different word for everything!”
What is the French word for what happened in Paris the evening of Nov. 13? Horreur? Tragedie? Indescriptible?
There are times when no words seem sufficient to describe the depth of sorrow one human, or one misguided group of humans, can inflict on another. 
So, Paris, a city which already had known its share of sorrow, joins a too-long list of the wounded, ranging from Oklahoma City to Mumbai. In the City of Light, a heart of darkness has left its mark.
My mind free associates again, and I think of marks, and scars. In the beautiful book “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave, a character offers these inspiring words:
I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.” 
Paris has survived, just as New York survived, and Newtown, Conn., and Madrid, and Nairobi, and on and on.

I live in hope. The scar makers will not have the last word, in French or any other language.