A few years ago I started reading my journals. Sunday mornings I take a few hours and look back. I am currently in 2003 and still have several thousand pages to go (and sometimes it grows faster than I can read it). Today I came across a rather meaningful entry. In it, I consider why I travel and process some of my feelings for 9/11. Given my recent travel to Alaska and the anniversary of 9/11, I figured it was suitable to copy post my journal entry.
Why do I travel? For experiences like this:
Saturday, June 21, 2003
I went to ground zero. It took me a while to getting going and I realized I was stalling. I finally got out the door though and managed to get on the subway and starting thinking….why was I stalling? Why am I am going there? Is it to take pictures? Is it to see the open area that used to be the world trade center? Why do I travel….in general? I realized in this case, it was to see how I felt when I got there. To see what feelings will be aroused by visiting this site of that horrific day. Sometimes I visit new places to experience something fun and exciting. Sometimes to see or learn something new. This time, I was going to see what I would feel.
I thought, don’t I know that already? Don’t I know what I will feel? I’ll feel sadness. I’ll feel the fear and pain of that horrible day. I’ll hear the sounds of the planes flying overhead.
I got off the subway on Rector Street and walked up past the Trinity church. I saw the building that housed the Petpad when I worked for Petplace.com. It was cool to see that area. The café where I’d eat lunch, the streets I walked….that was a fun time. It took me a few minutes to figure out which way I needed to go but I found my way. I saw a high chain link fence a block ahead. On the left of the fence I could see open space. Massive open space right in the middle of the city. People were standing against the fence, looking in, and I nervously approached ground zero, the former site of the twin towers.
I looked. A huge chunk of the city, gone. In its place were bulldozers, backhoes, trucks. The sound of jackhammers, trucks backing up, and people yelling instructions. The entire area was full of workers…rebuilding. A lump filled my throat and tears filled my eyes. And I felt the feeling I came to explore; it wasn’t what I expected.
The feeling I had was one of respect and amazement at the resilience we have as human beings. Terrible things happen and we clean up and rebuild. Our life goes on, we make the best of it and move forward. I felt a heavy hurt inside yet I it wasn’t pain. An intense wave of emotion that choked me up. Not the sadness I had expected for the events of September 11th, but an awe for our ability as humans to move forward. And it gave me hope. I’m quite a pessimistic person, so feeling a wave of positive wave of energy in the wake of a nightmarish event surprised me.
So many times when negative events have happened in my life I collapse. I feel drained and want to just sleep. In the wake of destruction, I want to cry and give up. And often, that is exactly what I do. Eventually I find a way to move forward, despite my despondence. Seeing all the activity at this spot inspired me. I have to remember this during my hard times. How even in the most horrific of events, the human spirit pushes us to clean up and rebuild. I am part of that human spirit. If I push through my hard times I can heal wounds and rebuild. I will always remember. That will never change. But I will heal and adapt, like what I saw at Ground Zero.