Jeez, I had the worst dream ever last night. Well, one of them.
I was in a tall, old building as it was coming down. Someone threw a grenade from the roof which detonated about halfway to the ground, right next to a support column. The building started coming down and I watched people jumping out of the windows, anxiously searching the people coming out for my friends.
When I gasped myself awake, Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten” was running through my head. If you’ve never heard the song before, it’s about 9/11. The part in particular that was racing around my brain tissues was the chorus:
Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten, when those towers fell
We had neighbors still inside goin’ through a livin’ hell…
And the thing was, I had. A little.
I didn’t blog anything for 9/11 this year. I didn’t feel like doing it on the day everyone else was doing it. I guess I felt like there was enough sadness going around that day that I didn’t feel the need to contribute my two cents to the general feeling of nostalgia floating around that day.
But I do remember, and I do have something to say. I remember that morning like it was yesterday. I had gone out to the car to get something from it before Goodman headed to work. I had to turn on the car for some reason, and I heard something on the radio news about airplanes. Then I heard something about the World Trade Center . I stopped what I was doing to listen a little, and slowly what the radio announcer was saying started to sink in. I ran inside and turned on the TV, and there was the World Trade Center, the first tower, smoking from a huge hole in the side. Minutes later it started to collapse. I remember sitting there staring at my TV screen in absolute horror. I remember how it seemed like I couldn’t stop crying. I was imagining what it would be like to be in that building, terrified and wanting nothing more than to get out. I was imagining how bad it must have been to drive people to jump right out the windows. How alone they must have felt. How desperate. How regretful.
I went online seeking solace after Goodman left for work. I found chatrooms, websites, newsgroups and bulletin boards populated with the world’s denizens wishing peace and condolence to the American people. We traveled to Seattle to leave flowers and a card at the International Fountain in Seattle Center. I cried for days, every time I saw something on the TV that documented the event, every time I thought about those poor people trapped in that building, every time they played the one where you could hear the bodies of the desperate hitting the sidewalks and streets. I wanted to rescue those people, take them to my heart, make them better and make them safe.
My friend Will did a blog in the wake of 9/11 with a line in it that struck me hard.
“Terror can only be overcome, and one overcomes terror not by defeating one’s enemies but rather by eradicating the terror in one’s self. That which we most fear is that which is most ourselves.
How, then, do we overcome it? Through bravery. Not the bravery that is preemptively occupying a country before it can attack us; rather, the bravery that comes from allowing vulnerability and, through allowing vulnerability, achieving enlightenment.”
As is usually the case, Will states things so much clearly and imaginatively than I can. I’m more meat and potatoes, I think. He’s like perfectly seared creme brulee.
But anyway, the point is that I think that statement was the best thing I’ve read in a long time. It’s so true. Allowing terrorists to rule us by making rules about bringing gels or liquids on a plane, prohibiting lighters, matches, and other things like that is giving in to the very thing we’re in Iraq to violently protest with our children and our neighbors and our family members. This is not a statement about the war or it’s validity. It’s a statement about courage. And bravery. The true bravery and courage that comes from allowing oneself to be vulnerable.