Thursday, September 11, 2008

9 11

I forgot. Wrapped in anticipation of the chaos awaiting me at work, I zoned out. The significance of the day escaped me. It was the seven year anniversary of 9 11. Yet, all I could think about was the outdated plumbing, which unleashed a surge of water that covered two thirds of my classroom carpet just days ago.

Not long before I got to work, I snapped out of my self wallowing. I noticed a parade of American flags zooming past me on the freeway. So many questions popped into my head: “Is today a holiday? I’m pretty sure it isn’t July. Is there some special election going on?”

Some guy even had a flag mounted on the back end of his Harley just above the tail pipe. Picture this image: the stars and stripes waving perilously in trails of pollution as he motored down the highway. How patriotic. Doubtless this was his intended objective. Yet, there it was in all of its glory, our nation’s flag choking on second-hand engine smoke.

Then it hit me. The last time I witnessed the paradox of a flag hovering over debris, the act leading up to the image was deliberate. Video replaying the planes crashing into the sides of the Twin Towers littered every news station on every television screen in every home, office, and building in 2001. It hung over a quandary of mangled steel, dirt, rubble, and debris at Ground Zero.

Maybe it's the 3,000 miles which separates me from the devastation, or the fact that I've never been to New York. I've never experienced its immense skyline. I don't have family or friends who live there. Whatever it is, I don't think that I completely understand the magnitude of September 11th, otherwise I would have focused my attention on the greater loss rather than my temporary discomfort.

I’ve never had the misfortune of returning to the rubble in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, trying to salvage the pieces after hitting rock bottom. I don’t know what it means to survive something so monumentally grave. Yet, there I was sulking in the mild disappointment of a renovated classroom thinking that the bottom wasn't too far a leap for me. How self absorbed is that.

Then, as though a lightbulb was switched on in my brain, I had a moment of clarity. I caught a glimpse of perspective. There I was feeling that my loss was so devastating, yet clearlymy temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the calamity that rocked New York.

The water damage to my carpet will fade away in a couple of days, but their stains permeate a lifetime. The musty smell of mildew will disappear, but 9 11 dust remains like dark matter clouding memory's skyline. I need only to spend time in reflection on the gravity of it all. Eventually, I will pick up the pieces and move on, but their pain is immortalized; permanently etched on the hearts of millions.

I think and feel differently about of 9 11 now. I'm not sure that I've completely grasped the depravity of it all, but of this I am sure... 9 11 isn't about dwelling on my dealings with faulty pipes; it's about a cooperative mourning over the destruction that robbed hundreds of thousands. My thinking has got to change. All things considered-- my oblivion is a building, and the desolation of 911 is a 747 rocking oblivion's foundation.

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