Remembering (just random thoughts)

I don’t recall if I wrote regular remembrances after the first couple years and I’m too lazy to go back and check. It would be interesting to trail back, at some point, and see how my thoughts might have changed. For now though it just seems indulgent and empty. It’s been nineteen years as of this morning and what I remember from the time is the utter shuck and horror. It wasn’t so much that we were attacked. That remains the part that makes complete sense after all this time. It was only a matter of time really before the chickens came home to roost. The bigger surprise now in 2020 is that it hasn’t happened on a regular basis since then. The emotional atmosphere, if anything, has only become more tense and ugly. The enemy, or rather who the enemy is, may be more uncertain, and I suspect that we are our own worst enemy, but things are tense. They were tense before COVID-19 and that’s only exposed it further.

The real shock on September 11, 2001 for me at least was that I’d never witnessed an act of violence on such a grand scale. Not up close. Hell, I grew up with the Viet Nam War on the nightly news. I’d seen the news footage from Pearl Harbor and D-Day and the Death Camps. It is definitely different when it’s close. Sitting on your front stoop breathing in the ashen remains of people and buildings is a sobering experience. Outrage though? Not really. It made sense. The fear made sense too. My kids were in grade school and one of my biggest fears was that they would ask if their lives were at risk and would I protect them. Their lives were at risk, but the reality is that they were at risk the day before that also and that there are forces in the world bigger than all of us that nobody can protect anybody else from. How do you explain that to a kid though?

I remember that fear too well, and I remember the smoke that lingered in the air forever, and the layer of ash that came down and covered everything. I remember how clear and bright the weather was that week and how it all seemed at odds with the atrocity. It was one of those cool, vivid late summer weeks. It seemed to me, for some reason, that it should cloud over and rain, just out of respect and proper mourning for the dead, and we didn’t know how many dead there were. And we didn’t know if there would be more attacks. I recall uncertainty.

And strangely enough, I’ve come to associate this song with the attack. It’s got nothing to do with anything but it’s sad and beautiful the way grief can be.

So now it’s nineteen years later and the world has only become more strange and uncertain. Even the word “uncertain” may not be accurate. It’s always been an uncertain world, despite what we believe or don’t believe. It’s just now there are more conflicting narratives and it’s harder to define which are true or maybe just closer to true. They could all be bullshit, and likely are. So what then? You break it down to the few small things you know are true, like maybe what you need to do on any given day to work towards the basics, like paying the bills. You let go of things you don’t know for certain are true, or divest yourself of them. Ask yourself, if this turns out to be a lie, what then for me? If there is no clear answer, drop it. If you decide that you would just figure something else out to get by, drop it.

Keep it simple.

The WTC attack brought on the collapse of one single narrative, the one unspoken narrative that nobody would dare and that we are all safe here behind our borders. That was always true, but for most people the very idea was unthinkable. Surprise, folks. People have never really recovered from that and if anything have reached out and grabbed more desperately at new narratives… like what we might need to do to bring us back into that earlier falsehood. That we could be so great that nobody would dare.

They will dare. They will always dare.

Anyway… as I said. Just random thoughts.

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