Cautious Optimism  

bedroomice2003 45M
359 posts
9/11/2006 5:23 am
Cautious Optimism

Five years ago I was living in New Mexico. I had a good job, a loving girlfriend, and a little cautious optimism about my life and where the world was heading. I had spent so much of my teenage years filled with anxiety and cynicism about the human race, having lived through the tail end of the Cold War, convinced we wouldn’t make it out alive. Yet something within us kept us from going over that edge and starting a nuclear conflagration. Maybe it was love. Or maybe it was just our innate ability for survival. But I began to develop a faith that somehow the world would correct itself again and we would live through a period of relative peace and tranquility. I was always interested in history and political science, and I noted how the world tends to go through phases of war, disease, famine, and intolerance before suddenly changing course and righting itself for a few years. I had tried to remind myself of the goodness of the human spirit, despite its violent flaws. I was hopeful, but not naïve.

I had a four day workweek with my job as a technical consultant and the money was reasonably good and very few bills. My days off were Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. On this particular week, I decided to come in to work for a little overtime on Tuesday. Switching on the radio, I guess I sort of tuned out the fact that there was no music playing as I made my way toward my job. I had only seen the Trade Center once many years ago as a child on my way back to Virginia from New York. When I heard that a plane had smashed into it, my first reaction was that it was an accident. Being somewhat obsessive in my youth, I had always wondered how vulnerable our cities would be to an attack of that kind. I think most people have an implicit understanding that such a thing is possible, but I wanted to think it was an accident. A small commuter plane veering off course. What I hadn’t realized was that a second plane had already struck the other tower. As the normally irreverent rock station DJs reported the news, my heart sank and now my recently acquired faith and optimism began to fade. This was no accident.

Arriving at work, the phones were pretty much dead. Everyone assembled in the break room and stared at the television. All I could see was smoke and the news bugs on the screen and people began forming wild theories about what they were watching. When news came in about the Pentagon being hit, we were told there was no work today.

I came home and turned on the television and finally saw what had happened. Watching the replay of the jet slicing through the South Tower in a fiery explosion, my jaw dropped. I fumbled for my video camera to record the event, aiming the camera directly at the TV and commenting on my reactions. A few minutes later, both towers came crashing down before my eyes.

My next reaction was one of dismay that I hadn’t lived closer in some effort to help. I rushed to the nearest Red Cross to donate blood and canned food and while I wasn’t turned away immediately, it was clear that others had the same idea. How else could we show our support for people on the other side of the country whose hell on earth was only just beginning?

Perhaps I was naïve, after all. Perhaps we all were.

Since September 11, 2001, things weren’t getting any better. The entire economy shifted. Massive lay-offs and offshoring meant that my once secure, high-paying job was a distant memory. I went into debt and simply stopped paying my bills when it became clear that my prospects, which were already thin, had all but evaporated. We got talked into a war with an admittedly belligerent, but unrelated adversary in Iraq. Executives were cooking the books and stealing pensions. It seemed like every job I was qualified for was heading overseas. Mail carriers had to be specially trained to deal with letter bombs and Anthrax. And the world suddenly became much more paranoid, to a level hardly seen since the height of Cold War. For every American flag raised in the streets and suburbs of this proud nation, somewhere there was a child dying on the streets of Baghdad or Tikrit or Fallujah. My relationship to my fiancée began to deteriorate to the point that we’re not the same people anymore. Certainly, I’m not.

And yet somehow we have still managed to survive. I think that’s the point that’s been glossed over by the media. Like so many other times in our history, we have once again come to the brink of collapse and taken a step back, rising from the ashes like a Phoenix. We’ll likely do so again until we finally come to our senses. I’ve found a new job which will hopefully enable me to achieve the kind of lifestyle I wanted five years ago and my prospects are improving. A deliriously sexy AdultFriendFinder friend of mine who worked in the Trade Center and was late for work on that terrible day has continued to inspire the warmest feelings and the hottest fantasies I thought were unattainable a few years ago. And the world is starting to wise up again, finally beginning to see through all the lies and the distortions which had brought us into facing not the enemy who wounded us, but more importantly, facing our own fears.

The world is correcting itself again, and we are at Ground Zero. Although it sometimes seems as though we live in a house of cards, we are all survivors. As we remember those who have died today, it’s important to remember that those of us left behind each has a stake in making our world a better place. Regaining my cautious optimism, I am certain it is within our reach and I look forward to the future.


September 11, 2006

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