“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” — Mister Rogers
What happened in Paris last night is still an ongoing story as this is written and likely will be for some time. It’s a story that seems to be in the news far too often these days, though this is much worse, with five separate attacks that are quite likely part of a coordinated effort. It is an ugly story, a story I don’t want to tell. But it is the story we will not be able to ignore because it is, sadly, not fiction.
From Shakespeare & Co in Paris, the bookstore where 20 customers are spending the night tonight. pic.twitter.com/FJrRCrbvDG
— Jamie Ford (@JamieFord) November 14, 2015
But in this ugly story, there is still hope, courage, kindness, strength, and grace. Using the hashtag #PorteOuverte (French for “open door”), Parisians offered accommodation for those stranded by these events. #StrandedinUS offered the same to those whose Paris flights had been cancelled.
Damian Grammaticas of the BBC reported how some people helped a small group escape from the Bataclan concert, where the worst of the casualties happened.
Survivor at Bataclan concert told French media around 60 people escaped, pulled one by one onto roof and into nearby apartment #ParisAttacks
— Damian Grammaticas (@dngbbc) November 14, 2015
Pulled one by one into the arms of strangers who took the risk instead of hiding and looking to their own safety. Emergency services doing what they could to save those in need of help. Homes opened, stores providing shelter. Look for the helpers.
I know this probably doesn’t seem closely related to NaNoWriMo, but I see a connection. When we come together in November, we are an international community of writers. We cheer one another’s victories and support folks through defeat. We hold out our hands to our fellow writers and we help.
We weave stories in this month. Some of them are dark and terrible and some are bright and light. We spin tales of both pain and hope, of terror and kindness. “The world needs your novel,” the slogan reads, and it very much does. We need tales of all kinds, because you do not know what it is someone will need to give them a brief respite from the story around them.
Writing is a very solitary occupation in many ways, but what should inspire and move us is the world we live in and the people within that world. NaNoWriMo is about not waiting until tomorrow, but telling your story now. Life is brief and we all have regrets, but don’t let having your dreams slip away without at least trying be one of them. Be kind to one another as well; respect and consideration do much to make the world around us brighter.