Saturday, January 15, 2011

Nine Years Old

For some time, I've been anticipating my dog's ninth birthday; but ever since the shooting in Arizona, "nine years old" has taken on a more profound resonance. Aren't we all in wonder of the short life packed with so much wisdom?  It seems as though being born on September ll, 2001 would be a bleak beginning.  Yet, I imagine that Christina Taylor Green's arrival on that day gave her parents a hopeful perspective.  This hopefulness radiates out from that young life.  She seemed destined to be an antidote to the hatred of terror.
   I had an experience on September ll, 2001 which was not as miraculous as the arrival of a child, but it likewise gave me a lasting hopeful perspective.  My friend Meg and I set out early on a long-planned plein air trek.  When I stopped at her house to pick her up, I turned off the radio news so we could talk.  As we drove out to our beautiful destination we were delighted that it was a pitch-perfect blue sky day.  All morning through the early afternoon we were nourished by a glorious peaceful setting.  We had no idea of what was unfolding in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.  The idyll came to an abrupt end when we stopped by an antiques shop close to our plein air scene before heading back to Lexington.  The shop owner questioned whether she should be open and the radio was prominent.  The word "triage" hit me and I wondered what had happened; certain that it must have happened in the Middle East.  Meg and I had a hard time understanding all this information. We were totally dumb-struck.  The shop owner was incredulous that we were so clueless. We went to the car and headed home in a state of disbelief (and listening to the radio).  How could anyone think of flying an airplane into a skyscraper?  I still don't understand that.
    However, it was too late for total despair.  I had seen that terrorists are limited in their power. Certainly, I would not have felt this way if I lived in the places of the attacks or if a loved one had been on one of the planes; even if I had kept the radio on that morning.  But I knew,  as horrific as their carried-out plot was, it was not a match for the force of life. Humans have a much greater capacity for love than hate; or else humanity would have perished long ago.  When these tragic events occur, the amazing stories of people's lives are revealed; people who are so randomly at the wrong place at the wrong time.  I wish we could know and appreciate these stories with out the sacrifice of their lives.  It would be so much better for a nine-year-old to be allowed to turn ten and enjoy a full life of birthdays, but I am grateful for her young life of hope.

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