It’s a waste of energy. Nothing practical gets accomplished. And it gets in the way. Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s not good for anybody.
I’ve suffered plenty of slights, some intentional and some not. I’ve gotten screwed over by employers (and others), and again, sometimes it was intentional, and sometimes it wasn’t. I’ve been treated badly, and even betrayed.
But hate is really strong. Personally, I feel like it’s a kind of poison, and just allowing it to fester in me, well, it tends to kill me a little. The longer I let it go on, the worse it gets.
So I try to let go. I don’t hate old bosses and old jobs. I don’t even wish them ill. Karma may step in and give them what they deserve, but even so, that doesn’t improve much of anything in my own life. I just don’t find joy in the misery of others. Even in those I may have, at one time, thought deserved it.
Instead, I endeavor to be positive. It’s not always easy, but I usually feel much better than I did when I’d allow hate to creep in.
I don’t hate political parties, or their candidates. I don’t hate opposing sports teams. I don’t even hate my ex. In fact, I actually hope she’s figured out some way to be happy.
But I do hate September 11th.
I get into a funk every year around this time. I didn’t know anyone who died on that awful day. I did know someone who lost a loved one in one of the towers, but that’s hardly the same.
I was in Washington DC that day. I was teaching at a broadcasting school in Crystal City, which is on the other side of the highway from the Pentagon. I was actually standing in a McDonalds, watching the Today Show when the second plane hit.
I did not hear the crash at the Pentagon. But at that point, communication became very difficult. There was suddenly no phone service. No cellphones or landlines. I was relieved to find out that this was because of the sudden and extraordinary demands placed on those services, and not further terrorist activity.
The next hour was terrible. Reports were flooding in to local radio about more attacks in and around Washington. I had heard two different sources say that the building where my wife worked had been hit, in addition to many other buildings and landmarks around Washington.
Police and other emergency personnel directed everyone out of the building, and directed traffic away from the city. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many cars there were, all creeping slowly out of Washington, while the Pentagon burned in our rearview mirrors.
Cell service returned, intermittently, and I was able to talk to my wife, who was at home and hadn’t been able to make it into work that day, anyway. I also talked to my Mom, who was in South Carolina, watching the horror on TV and scared like most of America.
For those who don’t remember what it was like eleven years ago, cell phones have come a long way. They weren’t quite the bricks you see in sitcoms, but they were march larger than they are today. And they didn’t text or play Words With Friends or tell you where to find the best burgers. They only made phone calls.
I spent a couple hours in traffic, watching smoke continue to fill the sky behind me.
I’m no hero. I didn’t do anything to help anyone that day. I didn’t lose anyone. I wasn’t hurt. All that really happened was that I got stuck in some bad traffic for a couple hours.
In the days that followed, we all changed. The skies were eerily silent as there was no air traffic. Traveling in and out of Washington, I got to see new landmarks. Military vehicles with big guns on trailers, ever vigilant. Electric traffic signs popped up, warning to contact police about anything suspicious. Soon, those signs would greet us with that day’s Terror Alert Color of the Day.
My sister came for Thanksgiving that year, and I remember picking her up at BWI, and having the uneasy feeling as I saw armed military soldiers on patrol inside the terminal.
Over the years, some of that has changed. New security checkpoints have replaced the armed soldiers at airports. The Color-Coded Terror Alert system has been replaced. I left Washington seven years ago, so I don’t know if there are still jeeps and trailers of weapons at different spots in the city.
I’m not afraid to fly. Well, no more than I was before September 11.
It’s been eleven years. A lot has happened. Some good. Some not. I get that that’s just life.
I mean no disrespect to anyone who lost someone on that day, or in any of the battles and wars since then. I don’t mean to suggest that any of them died in vain. I understand why a lot of people say NEVER FORGET.
But for me, I feel like re-opening these wounds every year at this time, well, it just weakens me. Body, mind and spirit. And I look forward to the year when I wake up on September 12 and realize, that for the first time, that awful day didn’t get to me.
Unfortunately, 2012 is not that year.