So many thoughts and emotions are stirred on a day like September eleventh. I suppose out of anything bad sometimes there can be good things. I just got off the phone with my parents answering machine… I simply left the message “Just wanted to call and let you both know that I love you, and I’m grateful to have you in my life.” In the Joni Mitchell song ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ she recites the verse “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” which somehow, on a day like today, speaks volumes to me.
For the people who have a faith that they adhere to, there are specific periods and rituals of atonement. The difficult, if not impossible thing about these rituals is that an individual may not be genuinely moved to recollect what needed forgiving that week as they step inside the confessional to receive their penance, or may have to search deep within themselves as they sit in a synagogue on Yom Kippur for what it is they should be saying they are sorry for. None of these things inspire me to reflect as much as the haphazard emotion I experience when something truly moves my heart unexpectedly. I did not think to myself yesterday “Oh boy, tomorrow is September Eleventh so I had better prepare for deep and introspective thought.” On the contrary, I woke up this morning and saw what day it was without time to prepare myself.
I see some people talking about loved ones lost on September eleventh, and I see others recalling where they were. I see many inciting the ever familiar ‘Never Forget.’ while others speak of how it makes them feel or how it effected (and may still effect) them. It was a day of cancellations on a global scale… everything from airline flights to regularly scheduled programs. Offices closed and sent employees home and schools let out early and the entire world watched their televisions as we watched them – the media – replay again and again what took so long for us to truly digest, as we stood aghast at the horror and tried to find some sanity in the madness.
For me, it took a while to really process anything. I remember watching the planes fly into the buildings, replayed again and again. I remember the buildings collapsing as I sat silent and motionless (I still wonder if I was in disbelief or shock or both) not knowing how to feel, how to react. I remember the anger as I screamed at the inanimate television demanding answers from the non-interactive interface, and although I remember so many things, it is more likely that I remember very little… even as I write this the chorus of the Temptations ‘Ball Of Confusion’ plays in my head, knowing the virtual impossibility of getting all of my thoughts and memories of that day into text as I write this blog.
The days following, or better said perhaps would be the aftermath was not much better. Facts came out but scattered. Information was speculative at best and that was long before the conspiracy theorists ever even got any attention. Families mourned, and mourned, and mourned… and it was like the whole world cried in agony. This was when my mind first wandered to another place…
What about that guy (or gal) on the office floor above the part of the building where the plane hit? Did they realize it was the end? What did they think about? What would I have thought about? Is it wrong for me to internalize? Were they scared?
What does it feel like to be that scared? I honestly don’t know. I suppose if I might be scared out of my wits and panicking and screaming out at the top of my lungs or thinking irrational thoughts about breaking a window and perhaps taking my chances jumping from one of the worlds tallest buildings. Perhaps I would crack a joke to myself to keep calm. Maybe I would say to myself “Today would be a good day to find out that Superman is real and he is going to come here right now and save me.” Maybe I would sit calmly and look at a photograph of my loved ones and smile and wonder what it would be like to see my children grow up.
It takes a memory like September eleventh to reflect on my own life, and that – so far – it looks like I am going to stick around for a bit longer, and smile a few more times, and hug and kiss and love and laugh…
and be grateful for life.
Take a moment to call the people you love, and tell them that you love them. Hug them if you can, and if you can’t, then tell them how much you wish you could. Take a deep breath and think about how good it is to be alive. Do it for yourself and for the people who are important to you… Do it simply because you can.