Tuesday, September 06, 2011

9/11 again

It's been a while.  Again. Not that I haven't thought about writing, but you know - the road to hell.  Is paved.

I did write a spec for TV and started outlining a pilot.  And now I've watched JackAss 3D, which can't be unseen.

I wrote this about my 9/11 experience in 2006. Now with the 10th anniversary coming up, it's been on my mind. Still don't know what I've processed about it, but I know I will never forget that air and that smell.

I called into a public radio line, which asked people to say what their hopes were/are for 9/11 and what we might take from it. In under a minute. I had no idea; there was no human voice, just a recording, and a time limit. So with time ticking, I could only come up with one thing: compassion. While the rest of the country seemed to be flowing with anger and outrage, what came out of a broken New York was compassion. There was anger, outrage, confusion, heartbreak, loss, bewilderment - but day to day there was a surprising amount of compassion, of awareness that we are all human beings with a shared experience.

It shouldn't be surprising; New Yorkers are often thrown into situations where strangers become allies due to nothing but proximity. You can be sitting on the subway when someone has a mental breakdown and trade looks with a fellow passenger acknowledging what's going on while you both ignore it because you know there's not a lot that can be done in that moment. Stoic, I suppose. A friend of mine used to say that New Yorkers have a "we're all in this together" attitude when push comes to shove. People are busy, and their lives are busy, but in that event it was clear that we were all in it together. And what came out was a lot of compassion. I'm not someone who thinks we necessarily learn from everything, and I would never suggest a disaster along these lines was meant as some kind of lesson - that would be repugnant to me. In the reaction of the city, though, I saw such amazing compassion and "we're all in this together-ness". If there's any take-away from it, I hope that compassion is it.