Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sept 11, 2001: some personal lessons

I started this as an entry in Cathy’s Place 9/11 Writing Challenge but as I started outlining my thoughts I realized I couldn’t finish by her deadline. Instead I decided to finish it on my own timetable and post it here.

First some background from that day:

Thinking about this topic it occurred to me to check to see if I had any journal entries about September 11, 2001, and I had started the first journal before that so there was a small entry. I had so much other stuff I was dealing with at the time and the media overload was more than I cared to add to the pile. So my notes are rather matter-of-fact without too much personal reflection added. The most telling statement was “After watching for so long you can get overwhelmed by the images and start to lose perspective. So we took the opportunity to take an unhurried bike ride.” Later there is a small comment about D and his friend D-2 being on their annual mystery trip and wondering if the price of gas would force them to come back early.

When the guys got back (on their original schedule) they had a D and D-2 tale, of course. They had taken a game console with them and were playing a video game on the hotel TV; not exactly kosher but that’s what they were doing. Unbeknownst to them when they hooked up the console, somehow bypassing the security link, they managed to broadcast the game to every TV on the premises. Guests who were trying to watch the ongoing news coverage were not happy to put it mildly. I remember we found the telling hilarious, and it’s still funny, but of course we weren’t the ones whose reception was being hijacked in the middle of a crisis. So much for my cryptic notes from that week.

Moving forward to the present, I have been thinking a lot about Cathy’s writing prompt “what lessons have you learned from 9/11?” I have definitely learned a great deal in the past 6 years what with spending 3 years at university, moving from the full-time mothering role into a work/career mode, and dealing with several issues from the distant past. However, I find it difficult to definitively attribute ownership for some lessons solely to the events of 9/11/01. That said; I think that even though there are other influences before and after 9/11 that are involved in these lessons, that the influence of 9/11 upped the ante and so the how is probably different from what it would have been had 9/11 not happened.

So here are eight things that have come to mind that I have learned from 9/11/01:

1. Despite encouragement to the contrary, everything has changed and it is folly to pretend that life goes on as usual.

2. The old play book is no longer valid and it is time to go on “audibles”

3. To be comfortable with the dichotomy that it had nothing to do with me and it had everything to do with me.

4. Counter to suggestions from higher up that withdrawing signals victory for the enemy, setting aside a time to withdraw allows for reflection and resolution which are important to assessing oneself and moving forward into change.

5. There may be no day but today, so I want to be doing what I would want to be remembered for doing, even if there might be no one left to remember.

6. I have a good head on my shoulders and it is okay to use it.

7. Trust my gut about what I should be doing because no one else has better insight on my life than I do.

8. Get comfortable with the discomfort of taking risks – informed risks but risks all the same.

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