The legacy of 9/11

Joey GarciaLast September 11th I woke from a night’s sleep with the strangest thought: “Something is wrong here.” As I prepared for work that thought repeated itself even though my environment appeared normal. So I prayed unceasingly. Driving to work I turned on NPR and learned of the attack. Later, I proceeded to my second job where I received a blistering letter blaming myself and others for not properly acknowledging or appreciating the letter-writer’s work. It was clear that nothing we had done (thank-you letters and calls, inquiries about her level of contentment), or could have done, would have assuaged the wound she fostered. As a colleague pointed out, we were easy targets. By contrast I had been expecting something like 9/11 for years. Its occurrence highlighted the inequities of the world, the betrayal inherent in U.S. foreign policy and our national dependence on foreign oil. To learn how to find the treasure beneath the tragedy of 9/11, I asked several friends, “What did September 11th teach you about yourself?” A selection of their responses follows:

On the 11th of September last year I met with my surgeon to choose a date for a mastectomy. Who’s to say what had more impact on my life, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center or the terrorist attack on my breast. For me they are co-mingled as an invitation to look at violence and rage, and loss and grief, and fear and love. I decided early on that if I called the journey with the cancer a battle it would perpetuate an aura of fear and bind me to conflict. I wanted to be open to anything that would be healing, and being open meant being without resistance, in spite of fear. I looked at the world recoiling from the horror and devastation in New York and grieved. And I wished there were a way to respond there, too, holding fear tenderly but not acting from it. It hasn’t worked that way. And too bad, because what I learned and gained here in my microcosm was love, the healing generosity of community. There’s been incredible love and generosity and bravery in the aftermath of the world’s September 11th too. Just imagine if that had been our whole response how much more at ease and open hearted we would all be now. Cancer and terrorism are inevitable blights on a landscape we have not held dear enough. I have come to believe that the least we can do is nourish and cherish all that is healthy, and work to heal all that is ill. It seems that my life now is devoted to just that, for my body and for all that makes up this world.

—Susan Orr

Raymond Carver inspires me with these lines from the poem, “Late Fragment,” which was written near the end of his life: And did you get what/you wanted from this life, even so?/I did./And what did you want?/To call myself beloved, to feel myself/beloved on the earth. Since 9/11, I have been touched so deeply by stories of others who love—innocently, without reservation—despite, or perhaps because of, such unspeakable tragedy. I am grateful for so many who love me, demonstrating it in simple and profound ways over the past year. May it continue for all of us!

—Jan Haag

I have learned even more to celebrate what I have.

—Heather Hutcheson

Meditation of the week
“Edicts fail two out of three times. Participatory decisions succeed eight out of 10 times,” says Paul Nutt, author of Why Decisions Fail: Avoiding the Blunders and Traps that Lead to Debacles. What edicts from your past have power over you?

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.