20 Hours Before the Attack in Paris

Posted on November 17th, 2015 by Kimanzi


There is an audio version below. 

After a 12-hour flight from Seattle, I was happy to walk into the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, France. It was Thursday, November 12th. I got a cab because sometimes I’m too lazy to go through the hassle of the train. It’s an hour drive from the airport to central Paris. The drive is pretty scenic as you get to see a lot of Paris, and it’s outskirts.12239507_910077622411009_668484103001829333_n

My first destination is my favorite, the Eiffel Tower. I got out of the taxi and looked up. The Eiffel Tower is a breath-taking site and never gets old. I spent two hours touring, taking pictures, talking to strangers, and recording video. It’s then a requirement (personal) to walk up the steps to the viewing area of the Tower–it’s about a few blocks away.

That’s where I took this picture: 20 hours before terrorists destroyed moments like this for so many people. I was leaving the Tower to explore other sites, and I turned around to the sound of laughter from young children. It was as if time stood still and people just relished in the moment.


I then took a taxi to the Arc de Triomphe, which honors soldiers who fought and died for France during several different wars. I would go on to see some places Tanya and I toured while we visited Paris in 2013. I took some time away from touring to enjoy a meal in a little café while writing. This café was a mile away from where one of the attacks happened.

I wrote some words in a few articles and in the #NaNoWriMo novel I’m writing. I was in Paris for a 12-hour layover on my way to Tel Aviv, Israel. I had left Paris 20 hours before the attack happened. When it did, I was with friends here in Tel Aviv. My phone blew up with messages from friends asking if I was still in France (Facebook’s algorithm doesn’t help).

It’s scary to think that I left right before this. It’s scary to think that someone was planning this while so many of us were enjoying such a beautiful city. It’s sad that there are people who want to hurt others in this way in the name of whatever twisted logic they use.

I hesitate to write this post because I don’t want to come off as overdramatic—I don’t want to be disrespectful to those who lost loved ones in the attack. I’ve had a few days to think about everything and have one message that I need to get off my chest.

Life is Short

If I had died in the attack, I would have died ready. My family would be covered financially and I have systems in place that will keep Tanya from having to work. She can grieve without worrying about money. I chased and accomplished my major life dreams. I still have big dreams, but the major ones I started chasing four years ago have been accomplished.

For most of my life, I couldn’t say these things. If I had died four years ago, it would have been full of regret. Today, I’m ready to meet Jesus with a full heart and life. It feels weird to write this to you, but it’s my truth and I don’t ever want to be fake with you.

Yes, we know life is short, but do most live that way? Are you living that way? You don’t have to do what I do. You don’t have to travel, publish books, or consult companies. Those are my dreams and each of us has different goals. But, if you aren’t living yours, I hope you’ll realize life is too short not to do something about them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about personal development. It’s true that all of this starts in your mind. You have to start with a mindset of belief in yourself and what’s possible. You must have a determined mindset that allows you to overcome a fear of failure. Easier said than done—I know.

I wouldn’t be here today (in Israel) if none of this wasn’t possible. I was a bread delivery driver from Wisconsin who now speaks all over the world. I didn’t win the lottery or get some lucky break. I didn’t leave a six-figure corporate job and hire some big named coach. I built this dream from scratch and so can you.

There must be a greater WHY. This can’t be about travel, money, or fame. This can’t be about having an online business. It has to come from a burning desire to spread your message. All of the rest will fall into place after that. The greater why is the secret sauce. It’s what people connect with and follow. Chase your why and change lives.

Audio version:

What’s your greater why?

  • Mariana

    “You have to start with a mindset of belief in yourself and what’s possible. You must have a determined mindset that allows you to overcome a fear of failure.”


    My greater why is my family; I want to spend as much time as I can with hem, and encourage others to do the same.

  • Trell

    It’s wonderful to know that you are ok comrade. I hope the remainder of your trip is glorious.

  • In his book, The Steal Like An Artist Journal, Austin Kleon says to write your obituary. I thought the request was rather comfortless — until this article.

    I just realized that Kleon was not trying to impose doom but a sense of purpose — in you the reader. By writing your obituary you get deep insight of how you lived. And if you don’t like how you lived — then it’s time to change how you are living so it matches your obituary.

    On a personal note — Kimanzi, I am very happy you are safe. I follow your Instagram feed so I knew you were not in Paris — thank god.

  • Love your honest & real writing, and the very concept of not ‘chasing influencers’ is already inspiring in itself. [Been actually feeling over-burdened by the outside ‘noise’ – and moving away from that and toward my heart’s promptings more.] 🙂

    My why for the world: “helping others find their way to empowered choices through clean living & eating – and a life of true vitality – one step at a time; helping fuel the forward momentum of the bigger movement for our society – one person at a time.”
    My why for me: Freedom + Connection (with my family) + Joy [Though these overlap with my why for the world.] That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

  • Heather Gjerde

    Reading your first paragraph after “Life is Short” made me seriously tear up! It’s great to know that you have pursued and accomplished some of your greatest life’s goals and that you feel satisfied with your life as it stands.

    That’s “why” I started my business Dashworthy (http://dashworthy.com/). It’s currently a blog that I plan to launch into my first book. Through writing I hope to motivate others to do exactly what you describe: Make every day last and know you’re going to be satisfied with the way you lived your life whenever that final day comes. A bit morbid but worth thinking about. I lost a good friend at the young age of 20, which made me realize we never truly know when our dash (the time between the day we’re born and the day we die) can come to an end. The only thing we can do and are sure of is this moment, so we have to make the most of it.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective!

    • Hi Heather,

      I totally agree with you. This moment is really the only we have. We’ve gotta make the most of it.

      By the way, your link is broken. I still subbed to your email list though.

      • Heather Gjerde

        Thanks for letting me know and for subscribing to my e-newsletter. The link is now fixed! 🙂

    • Sorry for you loss 🙁 Super cool to see what you’re building and the lessons you’re learning, Heather 🙂

  • My greater why is my family. Whenever laziness/procrastination sets in, I just think of my family and my reasons for working outside of my comfort zone to begin with. That’s what makes having a ‘Why’ so important. It can be used as a powerful driving force.

    You’re a great inspiration, KC. I’m glad you’re okay. I checked your facebook/twitter/blog/my emails after the attacks because I knew you were recently in Paris and didn’t know if you’d left yet.

  • PaulVandermill

    What a remarkable feeling that must be Kimanzi, four years ago you would have passed with many regrets, however if that were to occur today you would be at peace! Priceless! Well done sir!

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