If Only

I snapped awake this morning, like someone had pinched me. It was so sudden, so abrupt, that I rolled over to check the time. 8:12. The cats stirred at the end of the bed, and Loki came up to me, optimistic, kneading the comforter.

“Hello Loki,” I said. “Today is 11 September, 2007.”

I feel awkward, thinking about the events of six years ago. There are lots of things I could say, but I’m not sure how many are appropriate, or relevant, this morning. Whether you’re American or not, patriotic or not, something changed for a lot of people six years ago. While I normally charge into political issues full steam ahead, and there are a lot of political issues to think about this morning, it doesn’t seem….right. Or respectful. There’s a human issue this morning, and in it I think that there is hope. My own part of the story is small, only a fraction of the great whole, but these collective stories make up a complex narrative, and within that narrative I think there is a sort of hope.

I remember where I was, when I heard; I’ll bet you do, too. I remember looking for information, any information, and ending up on CNN, watching the same video over and over again on my laptop. It was grey that morning, not quite foggy but oppressed and overcast, and we were in our robes listening to the President on NPR and watching the same looping image. It seemed like such an ordinary morning, dew on the grass, deer in the drive, a wild turkey skulking furtively across the lawn.

Something about events like this makes us seek other people out. Perhaps it’s a sort of affirmation, or an obscure need for comfort in the collective hive-mind. But I do remember that we got dressed, and we went into town together, although we didn’t really know where to go. I remember going to Headlands, which was quiet and somber, and then ending up somewhere else, watching television with friends and strangers, the same footage on every station with shocked television announcers murmuring. Talking quietly amongst ourselves, glancing up whenever someone entered the room to shake our heads, no, no news.

Strangers all over the world came together, and I think that’s rather interesting. People watched the same images on their televisions, stood in varying weather for candlelight vigils. For a few hours, it seemed like the whole world was coming together, without thought of politics, race, creed, class. The impoverished stood with the wealthy, while Buddhists prayed at Christian vigils and I watched an ungainly pair of office buildings collapse with an Iranian on one side and a Brazilian on the other.

It would seem, occasionally, that humanity really is capable of overcoming huge hurdles to unify, even if only for a few brief moments. If only, I think, we could set aside our differences more often and unite to accomplish a common goal, or to mark respect for an event; think of all the great things we could do.