Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thoughts, 12 years after...

Twelve years ago, this morning, I was pouting a bit about having to come back from vacation.  It had been a good one, including a trip to DragonCon (that may have been my last where we went and stayed all four days).  I'd eaten breakfast while watching SportsCenter, and that show had rolled around to the point I'd started watching, so I flipped through channels for a little while.  I rolled across Nashville's NBC affiliate and saw one of the World Trade Center towers with a gaping hole.  My first thought was that they were promoting a new movie of some sort on the Today Show.

That misunderstanding didn't last long.  I flipped to a couple other news channels, and saw the same images, from different vantage points.  I was watching as the second plane flew into the second building.

I called my Dad.  He was watching in the waiting room of a dentist's office, where he'd had an appointment that morning.  I told him that I loved him, and to give my love to Mom.

I worked at a donation trailer, that day.  The person scheduled to work had called in the previous evening.  I listened to the day's events on the portable radio at the trailer.  Even though I was nowhere near New York, and knew no one having to live those horrific events personally, it still ranks as one of the most horrible, surreal days in my life.  I can't imagine having to live that tragedy close in.  I admire the strength of those who have gone through such, and come out stronger on the other side.


I post this every year.

There are two passages I always key in on.  The first:

The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead, these people are missing and dead.  They weren’t doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do. As I understand it (and my understanding of this is vague at best), another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we’re told that they were zealots, fueled by religious fervor… religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any Goddamned sense?
I still think about that.  And I still get frustrated and angry, sometimes.  Zealots, fueled by religious fervor.  No.  Never a lick of god damned sense.

(In all things, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Shinto, Democrat, Republican, Mets fan or Anti-Soccer, I have always believed that your belief system is simply a window dressing, and it just comes down to whether you're an asshole or not at heart).

I like Dave's bit.  I like the simple expression that none of this makes any sense.  I'll always admire him for that.  For not giving into the all too human need to act like You Know What the Hell is Going On.  For having the strength to go out in front millions of folks, and say that none of it will ever make any sense.  For perhaps suggesting with the statement that it's lunacy to try to find logic in it at all.

The other passage, one that I have come to key in on in recent years more than the previous one:

There’s a town in Montana by the name of Choteau. It’s about a hundred miles south of the Canadian border. And I know a little something about this town. It’s 1,600 people. 1,600 people. And it’s an ag-business community, which means farming and ranching. And Montana’s been in the middle of a drought for… I don’t know… three years? And if you’ve got no rain, you can’t grow anything. And if you can’t grow anything, you can’t farm, and if you can’t grow anything, you can’t ranch, because the cattle don’t have anything to eat, and that’s the way life is in a small town. 1,600 people.
Last night at the high school auditorium in Choteau, Montana, they had a rally... (home of the Bulldogs, by the way)… they had a rally for New York City. And not just a rally for New York City, but a rally to raise money… to raise money for New York City. And if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the… the spirit of the United States, then I can’t help you.
I still like that.  I like that very much.  The story of Choteau, in and of itself, yes.  But also the sentiment that despite all that sadness, despite all that anger, there's more than a thread of optimism to grab on.  That we can come together.

Dave's comments come days after the attack.  When the twin towers were still a smoking pile of rubble.  When it would have been all to easy to respond with anger.  Yet he chose to close with optimism.  I admire that.

(He's not the only one, I should add, who did so.  He's the one who did it, though, in a way that resonated with me).

This day will likely never dim from our memory.  It is is vital.... that we not forget that in the face of disaster, we came together as a people to heal, to grow.  Faced with negativity, remember that we responded with positivity.


I also post this every year.  These are a few of John Hodgman's comments at a literary reading.

There's a lot of good here, and I recommend you read the whole thing.  I make myself re-read it a few times a year, usually when I find myself complaining about everything.  Especially the last few lines:

...if art cannot contain or describe this event, and if for now the suffering is too keen to be alleviated by parable… if stories are for the moment not as critically needed, as courage, as medicine, as blood, as bacon, they can at least revert to this social function. As time goes on, this will all pass away into memory, into a story with a beginning and a middle and finally an end. And that transition from the real into fable will bring its own kind of comfort and pain. Now, though, we may gather and distract one another, take comfort in our proximity, and know that we are, at this moment, safe.
And lastly:

I am only humbled: to be here, to be alive. 


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home