Happy Bastille Day!

DSC03623Firehouse in the Marais, soundcheck going on in the courtyard… Same thing happening all over France, flags and banners, firefighters setting up the annual Fireman’s Ball in honor of Bastille Day. In the olden days, it was about accordion music, live combos, tango, fox trots and slow dancing on cobblestones, checkered tablecloths, cheap champagne and flat beer in real glasses, women in skirts and dresses, men with their shirt sleeves rolled up, red faces from Renoir paintings… Now it’s huge PA systems, blaring pop and hip hop, fat cables duct taped on the cobblestones, cheap wine in plastic cups, bottled beer, clouds of marijuana smoke, a sea of faces of all colors, streetwear, tattoos and piercings… Fun of a different hue… Happy Bastille Day! xxxxx Aliss


July 14th, France (2)


Flag at half mast on my street, third day of national mourning for Nice…

Finished listening to the On Being podcast mentioned in previous post, “Being Peace in a World of Trauma,” interviews conducted in 2003 and reposted on Thursday in response to the recent shootings of police in Dallas and in sync with Black Lives Matter.  Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Master, does begin saying suffering is a necessary part of life, then at the end of the interview, speaks of humanity’s potential for awakening. His own life, leading mindfulness retreats in the US, literally loving his country’s former enemies, is a lesson in itself. The second interview features Cheri Maples, a cop for 19 years, then in charge of training for the Madison WI police department, who co-organized a retreat for her colleagues with TNH. Her compassion for her fellow officers and the people they deal with is enlightening and very moving. Larry Ward is an African American businessman, speaking about his experience through the prism of mindfulness.

Healing antidote to fear-mongering media. Can’t recommend it highly enough, especially the unedited versions. Perspective and hope. Thank you Krista Tippett. xxxxx Aliss


July 14th, France


Middle of the night. Something ringing, is it the door, the phone? 3am…Who is it? Is this the moment my life changes forever, someone I love is in trouble, or worse?

My husband gets up and answers a phone, goes into another room and shuts the door…no sound, no movement…eons pass, maybe it was just a wrong number? Want to know, don’t want to know. Pray. Can’t stand it, get up, find him in the dark and ask, “What’s happening?”

It’s our daughter calling from the US to make sure we’re ok. A truck has rammed into the crowd on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, families watching the fireworks, dozens killed.

Strange. Before I went to sleep I was listening to Krista Tippet’s 2003 interview with Thich Nhat Hanh, “Being Peace in a World of Trauma.” He was telling what it was like to be in Viet Nam in the 60’s when the US military wanted to “bomb it back to the Stone Age” “destroy the town to save it”…Before the US, the French were there… In his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness, he writes that all life is a miracle, in a world full of suffering, suffering is what makes beauty, understanding, and compassion possible, mindfulness allows us to understand and react in the best way…

Every time I hear this, my heart cries, no!  How can we accept so much suffering? In Europe and the US,  we know there are vilains among us, multinationals destroying the land, the water, and local agriculture all over the world, arms manufacturers and bankers making money from war… We have a colonial past with centuries of slave trade, our armies are dropping bombs on civilians in Syria… I understand the rage but I can’t accept deliberate execution of innocents no matter how I look at it.

Is there no way to stop the circle of slaughter?

To be continued…