Like many people today, I have a memory of 9/11. I had dropped an 18 month old Owen off at his childcare on Duval, here in Austin. I was driving up Duval in beater of a car that only got AM and I was on my way to work. I usually didn’t listen to the radio because of Rush and Dr. Laura. My husband called me on my cell phone and told me to turn the radio on. I did and was amazed at what I was hearing and I pulled over and listened for a minute, cried, and then sped home where I watched both towers fall.
I went to work, and then came back home because I couldn’t concentrate and also because one of my coworkers, an older man, was being completely nonplussed about the situation. I can’t recall exactly what he said, but it had something to do with just keeping business as usual and that none of it mattered. He was someone I didn’t like much, and that didn’t help, and then later he showed me some real signs of intense self involvement and near Machiavellian manipulation. Ironically, he was a therapist.
I felt horrible for days. The skies were so quiet. I remember that all the cable stations were on silent. That scared me. You know when they take of Food Network and MTV things are bad.
It was a particular loss of innocence for most of us, but for me it started to cement a process where I’ve increasingly lost faith in people while at the same time working harder than ever to create peace. We are capable of so much good and kindness, so much compassion and patience and gentleness. But we are also so misguided, inner focused, out for our own goals, able to jump and justify mean behavior. All these things at the same time. It’s hard to fathom really.
I get tired. I get tired of reading news reports about the horrible things humans do to each other. I get tired and run down of watching people I know get into conflicts over things I think could be resolved with more gentleness. I wear down seeing how much suffering there is, all over, in all of us. I get tired of my own belief in peace and diplomacy and of trying to use my hard won skills in peace-making (born of a dysfunctional and emotionally rough family), my skills trained in school (in communication, conflict resolution and social justice), my desire to have stories end well, my stupid faith in love. In communication.
9/11 was a horrible day, one of many horrible days in a history of humans with a penchant for horribleness. There was goodness on that day, we’ve all seen it. There’s goodness on all those horrible days. I’m not sure how to make sense of any of it still.
I’m tired, but I won’t stop working hard for the goodness I believe in.