Life goes on – but how?
September 12, 2001 5:04 AM   Subscribe

Life goes on – but how? Life changes after a catastrophe like this; there is a clear Before and an After. But at another level, life marches onward. How is your daily life different or the same? (Probably a lot more taking time to smell the roses, yes?)
posted by joeclark (24 comments total)
Suddenly the Walk for Capitalism campaign feels so much more meaningful. I encourage all of you who value reason and liberty to join the walk in your respective city, and show your condemnation of these attacks on the very foundations of our civilization.
posted by dagny at 5:18 AM on September 12, 2001 [1 favorite]

Taking time to smell the roses, sure.

I've also called my family and checked in with many of my friends, even though most of them are nowhere near the disaster sites (neither am I).

Life at work marched resolutely onward, which I found immensely frustrating today. I wanted to sit at my desk, listen to the news on the radio and scour the web for any new news. I did not want to sit in a stuffy conference room and endure long meetings that all seemed rather pointless.
posted by netsirk at 5:28 AM on September 12, 2001

Maybe it will rally people to be more caring and compassionate for one another; maybe it will cause us to realize how unjustly short, tragic, and fragile life truly is; maybe it will guide our priorities back from where they have previously strayed. Sometimes it takes something as seriously grotesque as this Evil to wake us from sleep-walking through life.

I know and want to remember the way I'm feeling right now. I'm inspired to live a different, better life right now. Why is it that we forget to do the things that really matter--telling people we love them, caring for others--until such extremes remind us that they're important? Maybe because it's easier--and less vulnerable--to do otherwise?
posted by gramcracker at 5:30 AM on September 12, 2001

dagny: wrong time to push your friggin' agenda

It seems like everything has just stopped. I truly wonder if we can laugh again.
posted by owillis at 5:32 AM on September 12, 2001

owillis: I'm standing up for the continuation of freedom, capitalism and the Western civilization as such. This is not the wrong time to "push" such a "frigging agenda". Quite the contrary, as Dr. Hurd explains in his excellent piece called The Day America Grew Up. Please take the time to read it.
posted by dagny at 5:39 AM on September 12, 2001

I read it, and its no better than the people on ebay selling WTC artifacts.
posted by owillis at 5:45 AM on September 12, 2001

Life goes on because there has never been any event in human history to cause it to stop. This event is no different. My life is no different. Nobody called to check on me, ergo I call nobody to check on them.

Anybody for pancakes?
posted by aaron at 5:50 AM on September 12, 2001

Life goes on but it isn't going to change.

Life goes on because this has been happening non stop for as long as I can remember. The persian gulf war -- is the earliest thing that I can clearly remember, but the first thing I remember thinking was "I thought we learned better than to do this with WWII..." ...

Life goes on because everywhere outside the US people have learned to live with gas masks in their homes.

Life goes on because nobody cries for the genocides that keep happening in that little picture window in the corner of the TV.

Life goes on because we never seem to learn. Everytime I hear someone shout "we've got to kill them! we've got to show them! we've got to punish them!" all I can see is more blood and everyone forgetting how to be horrified.

And here, until yesterday lunchtime talk with colleagues is all about how american consummerism is ruining the quality of life.

Granted, nobody's talking about that now.

But we're all thinking... THat we know it's not going to change.
posted by monstre at 5:56 AM on September 12, 2001

> Suddenly the Walk for Capitalism campaign feels so
> much more meaningful.

You expect Randians to walk somewhere? To go somewhere on foot?

> I truly wonder if we can laugh again.

I can. In fact, I got a snort or two out of the (requisite link to) Onion this morning.

> Life changes after a catastrophe like this

Yes. Now we get to hear the posturing and bluster and jingoism of "We will not be defeated!" and "Terrorists, bad! US, good!" and "God bless America!" over and over again. Now it's time for lots of maudlin, showy crap: television documentaries, monuments, tribute concerts, group recordings a la 'Feed the World', renamed schools, rampant yellow-ribbonism, and the awkward, enforced moments of nut-scratching silence at a thousand sticky-floored sports arenas.

Yes, it was truly terrible. It was terrible for the fire officers, police officers, people on the planes, and ordinary cubicle dwellers caught in the blasts. Imagine the real terror of standing on the sill of a jagged broken office window with a ball of burning air at your back and a quarter mile of space between you and the asphalt. Imagine feeling 100 floors of skyscraper rumbling and shifting and falling out from under your feet. Imagine being one of the hundreds of fire officers who suddenly vanished beneath it all in a dam-burst of steel and concrete and heat.

And it's terrible for their relatives, who will go on imagining and re-imagining their dead loved ones in such situations.

But it wasn't terrible for most people. Most people seem to be enjoying this a bit too much, as if it's a Die Hard movie they get to play a small part in.
posted by pracowity at 6:03 AM on September 12, 2001

aaron - your life is no different? no different at all?

sure, you're still eating pancakes and sleeping and breathing, going to work, or uni, or school or maybe just to the grocery shops and back.

but aren't you even vaguely concerned that this could happen again? and next time in your own town? or to your friends? did you ever give it much genuine thought before this happened?

sure some things won't change, but it is inevitable that some things will.
posted by netsirk at 6:10 AM on September 12, 2001

Even a kick in the ass is a step forward..

lets hope this makes us stop and think about all those things monstre mentioned - the world is not a nice place, lets try to make it better..

and to dagny - capitalism = freedom, economic liberty etc etc? For every winner in capitalism there must also be a loser, else why isn't the US a happy place full of happy people?
posted by Mossy at 6:16 AM on September 12, 2001

As with the Oklahoma City bombing, the 1993 WTC bombing, the TWA crash, the Lockerbie crash, etc., my daily life is changed very little by the events -- I go about all of my regular tasks with no change.

However, with each one of these incidents, I find there is always a little part of my imagination haunted by the thought of "what if it had been me". Today there are now thousands of people dead in New York City who expected little more of their Tuesday but to go about all of their daily tasks uneventfully too.
posted by briank at 6:33 AM on September 12, 2001

I'm writing this from work, where the mood is somber. I'm on tour with a Broadway show, which was cancelled last night. I really want to curl up in bed and cry, but somehow it seems very important to go on with the routine. Still don't know if there will be a show tonight.
posted by PaleFire at 6:50 AM on September 12, 2001

I just woke up a few moments ago, after barely sleeping last night. But this post reminded me of something I thought yesterday while watching the WTC burn - I could literally see the flames from my office two miles away. Looking down momentarily, I could see people strolling along on the street, about as many as usual. And the oddest thing, for some reason was hearing people in cars honk their horns out of frustration.
posted by Sinner at 7:19 AM on September 12, 2001

Hmm . . . my life hasn't changed in re to whether I'm still alive, and my own basic values, etc., etc. At the risk of sounding selfish, however, plenty seems to be changing directly: One, gas was up here 20 cents in one day, meaning it probably will go up more, leading to increased inflation and questions about my own future, and that of my friends and family. The economy is probably in trouble, as it was to some degree already.

Meantime, polls show a majority of Americans would agree to giving up some civil liberties in exchange for fighting terrorism. I don't know what that means, don't know if they mean temporarily or in special circumstances (such as at airports), but that would constitute a profoundly negative change for me, and millions of other Americans who believe this is the country's reason for being.

"Is this going to happen again soon?" is not so much the question (I don't think so, given typical terrorist ways) as what direct effects this will have on the U.S. But will terrorism get worse no matter what we do? It's not so much the immediate change as the uncertainty and vague sense of dread. Which, for the record, is not equivalent to a sense of doom.
posted by raysmj at 7:28 AM on September 12, 2001

Boy, what netsirk said is very felt where I am at. We actually had our employee of the month meeting about five hours after the whole thing started. I though back to how people were when President Kennedy was killed; my general impression was a great many people all over the world took at least a little time out for that. I felt this push forward was probably a way of coping for some, but I watched as tears welled up as we all just waited for our meeting to be over. I had to leave so as not to break down or just yell at these people. I felt like everyone was being so disrespectful. I also don't think it was too respectful to the person we gave our award to, could we have not just waited until tommorrow?
posted by memorydream at 7:29 AM on September 12, 2001

Pracowity: But it wasn't terrible for most people.

Perhaps not most, but for many more than you named. How about everyone who had to wonder about a loved one who was travelling yesterday -- or ones who work for airlines? I spent quite a bit of time scrambling on the phone to determine the whereabouts of five family members who are flight attendants. (All grounded for the day, by schedule rather than circumstance. Thank G-d.) Imagine if you were in Boston, Newark, Washington, LA or San Francisco and had no idea if the plane you just put your loved one on or the plane you were waiting for had been made into a flying bomb?

How many people nationwide are still waiting for word about a loved one in New York City, or the Pentagon? There are thousands of people unaccounted for, and they have networks and ties across this nation. Waiting and wondering if someone is dead or alive sounds pretty terrible to me. I can only be thankful that everyone I know in NYC and DC is accounted for and well.

And I know that personally, all of the waiting and wondering and trying to stay calm, positive and prayerful about those people until I got confirmation that they were okay was decidedly emotionally trying and terrible. Having to explain what happened to the twin buildings (and the people inside of them) to my twin children (age 4) and their siblings was terrible. Having to explain about the plane that crashed an hour away from my home was terrible -- made worse by my oldest two inadvertantly catching a glimpse of a local news reporter exclaiming "The plane and its passengers disintegrated on impact. There is nothing left bigger than a phonebook."

I think that your comment truly belittles and diminishes the experiences and emotions that many Americans were experiencing yesterday. No, we didn't live the terror of the people directly on the scene. But like the tremors of the physical impacts of the planes, and the collapsing buildings, the emotional and people-related impact has rippled out across the nation, and indeed around the world. Terror has struck, and we are all terrified, and it is, unquestionably, terrible.
posted by Dreama at 7:51 AM on September 12, 2001

> > But it wasn't terrible for most people.
> Perhaps not most, but for many more than you named.

Yes, yes, if you insist, family and friends (and postal deliverers and the lady at the pizza shop and that dude who lives downstairs and...) is a more accurate list of everyone directly affected in some way, however remote. I didn't see the need to list every possible connection to make my point.

But that still leaves another 200 million odd Americans. For a lot of them, I suspect it's more a secret thrill and a bit of entertainment than a tragedy.

> we are all terrified

I don't think so.

"Tie a yellow ribbon..."
posted by pracowity at 8:30 AM on September 12, 2001

Hmmmm. It doesn't feel quite real to me. I deliberately kept myself somewhat cut off from the news yesterday, in order to not spend all my time thinking about the disaster. It's hard to keep a sense of perspective; New York is a long way away, and the scale of the destruction is almost unimaginable. Well, it's imaginable, I suppose, but only in a fantastic sort of way. It's hard to remain aware of what it means that such a great number of people are suddenly dead.

I expect that life will change, a bit: this will be another opportunity for central government to take away a few more civil liberties, and in the heat of the outrage nobody will mind. So there will be a few more things you can't do, a few more ways to be spied upon, a little bit more nuisance and boredom as a long term result.

What I am more curious about, but will take some years to show up if it happens, are the societal attitude changes this may bring about. I can't imagine Americans abandoning high-rise office buildings, but what if collective opinion in another year or so holds that it's just too dangerous? Will this lead to a general belief that the U.S. has provoked attacks like this through its international meddling, or will it strengthen American resolve to flatten any country or group who threatens it? Or, in some weird way, both?

posted by Mars Saxman at 8:33 AM on September 12, 2001

Pracowity, perhaps I don't have your urbane jadedness, but if this is just secret-thrill-and-entertainment I'm feeling, why did I have such trouble sleeping last night and so much trouble returning to my life today? Perhaps watching thousands of people demolished before my eyes is such a childish reason to be upset -- I must be just a slave to corporate sentiment, etc. Tell me -- should anything that happens to people other than me and those I know upset me? Ever? Or should I just devote my time to telling the world how unintersted I am?
posted by argybarg at 9:08 AM on September 12, 2001

>> > But it wasn't terrible for most people.

I am in North Carolina. I have no friends who work in or around the Pentagon or WTC.

Yesterday was absolutely nauseating, emotionally draining, and horrible beyond belief. I cried as I watched the second tower crumble on CNN in our office lobby. I raced to pick up my son in preschool and huddled on the couch all day watching cartoons and news. If you are an American, and yesterday was not terrible for you, then I am truly sorry for you and the loss of your soul.
posted by glenwood at 9:54 AM on September 12, 2001

I think about organized religion and how ridiculous it is. Why does no one talk about it. Wasn't this attack caused because of religious beliefs? How many people have been killed in the name of god?

If there is a god I think all he wants is for us to do what is right, treat people fairly and not abuse people because they think different than us.

I think all religions claim that their god is the only god. So one is right and all the others are wrong? Seems pretty far fetched. What happened to all the Greek gods? Anyone believe in them anymore? It amazes me that intelligent people can follow the beliefs of some writings in a book and not know the difference between right and wrong.

I think the time has come to do away with all organized religion. How else can there ever be peace in the world?
posted by jane777 at 5:27 PM on September 12, 2001

Hindu is Polytheistic. Animists from Japan and North America also. Many many more I'm sure but I thin Hindu is the largest right now.

I'd hate to be wrapped up in the non-religious organization to wipe out all organized religions... you'd get your hands pretty damn bloody. I do understand your sentiments tho...
posted by daver at 6:16 PM on September 12, 2001

Nobody said to wipe them out. Just educate people as to how ridiculous they are. Do not support them. I have made donations to various religions in the past. I never cared what religion they were. If someone needs help it doesn't matter, especially since I have never belonged to any particular group. Now, because of this tragedy, I will never give any support to any religious group again. Right and wrong are easy enough to figure out, you don't need the teachings of some ancient book. I do not want to contribute to anyone spreading what they think is gods word, it seems more like brainwashing to me.
posted by jane777 at 6:42 PM on September 12, 2001

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