And here we are, twenty years since September 11, 2001, with the horrific events that catapulted us into this twenty-first century. I've been reading all sorts of essays and articles that take a look back, some with an analytical eye, some simply observing, all tinged with loss and hauntedness.
All week, I've thought about the kind of post I might write today. But on this morning, I find that I don't really want to write about the event in terms of my own personal recollections. And the kinds of larger implications I might want to explore, well, I'm not ready/equipped to do that right now.
But let me collect some scraps, which may or may not be useful later.
--I remember driving down to the University of Miami while events were unfolding. I remember all the apocalyptic books and movies I had read and seen and wondering if we were at the beginning of a war. Should I be scanning the horizon for mushroom clouds? Should I turn around and head home?
--I did continue on and conducted my first class as if nothing had happened. It seemed important to preserve normalcy. I look at that sentence and wonder what I was thinking. I look at that sentence and wish I had cherished that normalcy that was even then vanishing.
--At the time, it seemed like a one time apocalyptic event, a day blazed in our memories. As the pandemic has unfolded, I've reflected on the difference with a slow motion apocalypse, compared to a September 11 kind of event.
--But as I've reflected, Sept. 11 has also triggered its own slow motion apocalypse: wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terror and all the ways it transformed individual countries and the world, on and on I could go. I feel like I had a bigger list at some point, but I can't pull it up now.
--As we look back, I'm struck by all the opportunities lost along the way, all sorts of opportunities.
--And of course, I wonder what we're missing now. When the next apocalypse roars, we will look back and see what? Will it be the apocalypse we're expecting (then, mushroom clouds and nuclear war, now all sorts of climate change triggered awfulness)? History tells us that the answer will be both yes and no.