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As It Should Be: Moving On From 9/11

(Photo: Forever lost view from the World Trade Center’s Top of the World observatory. Credit: terraxplorer2.)

The following is cross-posted on my Huffington Post Chicago byline.

I’m happy to say this is the first time in eight years I didn’t see 9/11 coming. I forgot almost completely about the anniversary of that infamous date until a few hours before this writing. In previous years, I’ve commemorated the day by describing my part in the exodus from Manhattan and entreating my blog readers to reach out to those they love.

Not this time. Today my thoughts are preoccupied with the wonderful new and potential clients I’ve met in the past few weeks, my budding romance with a softer-than-he-seems ex-Texan, worry over my nine-year-old cat’s weight loss, and glee over finally ordering HD TV for my 11-month-old HDTV.

Some might call my perspective disrespectful. A few weeks ago, a Chicago Tribune editorial referenced the 9/11 attacks to mock the debut of video poker in Illinois. The same day, on his widely read Capitol Fax blog, Rich Miller called out the Trib’s editorial board for making light of a national tragedy.

I think the Trib had the right idea. As I commented on Capitol Fax, maybe it’s finally time to take this day lightly. You can hold onto the past only for so long until looking backward becomes fear of moving forward. Sometimes bad humor is just bad humor. Sometimes a day should just be a day.

I lost colleagues, my sense of safety and serenity, and ultimately my hometown on 9/11. I walked eight miles home frightened of airplanes, and have spent eight years making sense of it all.

It’s that last part that matters. The events of 9/11, tragic as they were, are distant memories to me now. I will never forget their impact on my life. But they happened a long time ago. I have become a different person. I have grown. My likes, dislikes, friends, foes, career, and capacity to embrace an uncertain world have all changed. It’s hard for me to identify with the man I was back then.

The man I have become is willing to allow the dead to rest and life to go on. Grieving is long over. I feel no guilt in letting go. In fact, I feel no differently today than I did yesterday. Perhaps that’s as it should be.

In fact, that’s how it used to be. It occurs to me what I’m feeling today is a sense of normalcy about my life that I haven’t felt in awhile. I remember it well, though.

From eight years–and one day–ago.

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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4 replies

  1. Thanks, NJ & Donn (chgosaint.)

    José (LusoMapleleaf–for readers, that’s “joe-ZAY”, my Portuguese friend), it’s worth noting for those not in the know, it was to your house in Queens I walked for eight miles that day from Manhattan. Promptly taking a shower, borrowing your skivvies, and trying not to freak out with your sister and niece. I honor all of that, let it be, and move forward. Hope your day went well, too.

  2. Life goes on and you’re right to want to move on as well. You were back here with the rest of us and suffered the pain all metro New Yorkers felt that day and for the many weeks and months to follow. You can’t forget that day completely doing so would be neglecting the important lesson we learned that day… You have to keep the notion of reaching out and helping others alive, thats what 9/11 should stand for. The Presidents’ call for a national day of Service hit the nail on the head… 9/11 should be a day to reach out to help our fellow man.. Living in the past is wrong but forgetting the past is stupid.

  3. My focus for 9/11 has largely changed from the visuals, the news, the tragedy of 9/11. It has turned to rage, rage against what we allowed President Bush to do since 9/11. 9/11 – A day I will never forget… 2993 casualties dead due to the actions of 19 terrorists. Since 9/11, 4343 American soldiers killed in Iraq due to one man — George Bush. A man who made Iraq his target for 9/11 and sold it to America based …on lies. We can’t try the hijackers for murder, but we could try George Bush. He killed more Americans than 9/11. Never forget the danger of the enemy here at home.

  4. While I don’t know if I will ever be able to completely take it lightly, I must say that I agree with the premise and the sentiment of your post. As it should be, indeed.

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