Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thoughts and Ruminations

I hesitate to press the button and post this. I am positive that I cannot write anything original or even meaningful.

Ah, goes nothing...

It's been 9 years.  I have nothing to add to all that's been written since then. Yet, I feel the need to somehow mark this somber anniversary by attempting to recall the fading memory of the thoughts and feelings of that day.

9 years ago I woke up in the afternoon having napped after call the night before. I came downstairs to make a cup of coffee.  I turned on the television to see one tall building burning. Morbid curiosity shifted to disbelief and then to anger as I watched in real time, an airplane ripping through the second tall building. I instantly realized that this was no accident, it was deliberate.  The first tall building and then the next, collapsed. The emormity of the tragedy was overwhelming.  I had a sense of witnessing history. The sadness and the rage came later.

Only later, years, in fact, I learned that a high school classmate was murdered then.  His widow was interviewed and she told that her husband called to tell her that an airplane had crashed into the building which was burning; and that he loved her. This scenario was repeated many times that day. They knew. They knew that they were in mortal danger. I can only speculate what a person thinks and feels at the moment of realization.  Were they stoic, angry, fearful; Did they feel panic, terror, acceptance?  Did they cry, did they pray, did they hope? Perhaps some just blankly waited for certain death, resigned to the inability to do anything.

I've seen people die. Some were patients in the ICU who were heavily sedated.  Some were trauma victims who were fully concious, until they weren't.  They looked, pleading, into my eyes searching for reassurance. I reassured them even though it was a lie, convincing myself that it was the compassionate thing to do. I don't choose to dwell on it, yet I find myself obsessing about the moment.  What does a person think and feel at that moment? What did they experience at that moment? For the souls in those buildings it was more than a moment, it was an eternity.

As the memory of that day fades, I no longer contemplate the global meaning of what happened. Surely there is a universal struggle against suffering, hatred and evil; inhumanity and cruelty. There is an enemy, and we all know who that enemy is. I choose to ignore the larger issues because they have become hackneyed and common; and thus have lost their meaning. Instead, I focus on the individual experience. I believe that the victims' memories are better served by remembering them. So today, I think about them, the individuals and what they experienced.

I suspect that their experiences  were as varied as the number of people in the buildings that day. Again I ponder a question: At that very moment, when an individual experiences impending doom, does he look for sense in a senseless reality? Don't expect me to provide the answer, it's tough enough just phrasing the question.

Hence, I refer the reader to one of the most important books written during that last century: "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl who survived the Holocaust. He writes:

"Everything can be taken from a man but...the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

So, my advice is to choose. But don't wait too long to do so.


ruth@israel said...

no one is fearful. i took so many interviews from people who took a part in a war. when they talk openly and honest-they all told me-*it was so scary*

vitamin c said...

I was horrified the time I heard that news and I instantly prayed. I don't know what to think, maybe they were all hoping to survive at that moment.

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