I've had difficulty grappling with 9/11 memories. The day was a horror for me and my family. As I have written on this blog, my daughter and son, living in New York City, were both at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Both walked out to Brooklyn before the towers collapsed and were safe, but both were scared and scarred. My daughter, working in the banking and finance industry, left New York and travelled around the world for three years. My son, attending college in New York, stayed in the city, but began his journey into Orthodox Judaism, discovering his Jewish heritage, as an assertion of light against the forces of darkness. My daughter eventually returned to New York and the finance industry, and recently married and lives in Manhattan. My son married and moved, following his wife's career, to Seattle; but both of them yearn to return to New York.
My personal reaction to 9/11 involved my deepest fears of losing my children. I thank God I did not, but that long day dug a deep hole of empathy for the victims of the attack, who suffered prolonged and painful deaths, and the families and friends who lost them. The empathy is like a black hole at the center of my galaxy, silently and invisibly sucking life into its vortex when experiences venture too close to its rim. I steer my spaceship as far away from it as possible.
I deal with the wound by sequestering it. I'm like a child, when it's out of sight, it's out of mind. No ritualization to objectify it, no therapy to cope with it, no immersion in it to deprive it of energy, no display of the bloody shirt to strike a political posture, I have rather let it exist untreated and so deepen my experience of humanity, even at the distance it is kept. It provides a cosmic scale by which to measure the attitudes and experiences of other persons, such as public figures whom I observe, a metric for the universe of emotion in which we all exist.
I discovered one can, I can, live with a big wound and get on with life, without being crippled or disabled. A great wound, as long as you don't fall into it, can be a foundation for strengthening other structures of experience, for coping with everyday tragedies, for healing of lesser wounds, for enlivening ordinary happinesses, for receiving the blessing of each day, for perceiving the openness of the future, for nourishing gratitude.
As a lawyer, whom I engaged years ago to help me deal with a gang of thugs who viciously attacked me, would sign off each memo and letter to me: Onward! Onward, it is, as in onward, Christian soldier, warrior of faith. Onward.