Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back to Writing and Finding the Right Words

Call it vacation or a massive case of writer's block, but it has been a good long while since I put fingertips to keyboard...there was that old adage my mother taught me ..."if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.", bouncing about my conscience too.

I struggled with words this summer.  I found opening up Facebook to check in with "friends" to be painful at times.  The vehemence and invective with which people who claimed to be friends assaulted each other and strangers, was frustrating, infuriating and vexing...how many times did I type a pithy response to someone's snarky POV, only to delete it...not wanting to stoop to the snark.

Political ads and talking heads are vomiting nastiness and fear and hate and ignorance...both sides...bad words.

"Friends" took to posting polls and what do you think posits on their pages in an effort to have a civil discussion about current events and politics only to have tempers flare and civility lost.  There has been more than one posting of a cartoon saying "I desperately need a 'hide political posts' button on Facebook so I can still like my friends after the election year is over."  (someecards.com)  Everyone "likes" the cartoon image, but the mean speak continues.

Having espoused for most of my adult life that it is better to DO right than to Be right...(easier said than done; it does take practice)...I opted not to add any fuel to any of the fires.  I kept my words to myself...until today.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of one of the worst days of my life...a life changing day...a faith testing day...and certainly a day that tested my above stated philosophy.  Today is 9/11.

I woke up knowing exactly what anniversary this is...I felt sad.  I was also pretty disappointed in this election year in that what has made the USA stronger since that awful day in 2001, seems to be easily forgotten in favor of the worst politicking I have ever experienced.  That September 11th showed were are better than this.

I felt so lackluster on this beautiful morning that I almost crawled back into bed with the thought of canceling my workout.  But, thanks to my trusty terrier who needed to go out, I got up and got on with my day. 

As I drove over to Westford where my trainer is, I noticed every American flag displayed  along the way and at first unknowingly, I bowed my head slightly, prayerfully, as I passed...my eyes lingering on the stars and stripes longer than usual..I soon became aware of my actions and let them go, unfettered. I was proud to drive down Main Street, lined with American flags.  Tears welled up and a lump grew in my throat.

When I reached my destination in Westford, I got out of my car and I looked up at the hauntingly beautiful, blue sky...an exact copy of that other September 11th, years ago.  I paused and I remembered.

As I entered for my workout, it popped into my head that my trainer...a nice young guy of 22 years, had served in the military.  As luck would have it, I was the only person scheduled for the 9:30 am time slot so I had a one on one training session with Raphael.  I asked him (knowing full well what the answer was) if he served in the military...he said he had and is serving with the National Guard now.  I thanked him for his service and told him that today was not an easy day for me.  He nodded , looking down, and then proceeded to tell me about his time in Afghanistan.  We talked through my strength training session...well, mostly he talked and I listened and sweated...sometimes I cried through my presses and pulldowns.   He told me of a wonderful friend of his, an 8 year veteran of the military, who after only seven days in "the sandbox" was murdered by one of the Afghan soldiers whom he was sent there to train... teaching him to take on the security of his own country...to give that murderer and his countrymen the control they claim they want...but they want to kill the soldiers more. I listened to what he was saying as his eyes filled up and the words caught in his throat...I knew he was saying more... felt his frustration because he is so proud of his service and the honor of his country's cause...but where is the support?...not the lip service...not the words... where are those actions which should speak, no, shout louder than words?

I listened as this nice young man recalled back to when he was eleven years old, and having seared in his mind the image of his school mate...the young niece of John Ogonowski, one of the pilots of AA Flight 11, which hit the Towers that spectacular September day.  Raphael recalls seeing his friend, on a local newspaper's front page picture, frozen in flight, running down the road from her family farm...what she was running to or from, we cannot be sure but it captured for all time what so many of us experienced...conveying the fear and grief of a child and the fear and grief of a nation.  For him, that picture spoke all his words about September 11th.

We talked a very little bit about politics...mostly about our shared confusion and disappointment about the war in Afghanistan...he called it a forgotten war...and shadows of Viet Nam moved in my memory.  We talked about praying for every service man and woman's safe return...sooner rather than later.  We talked about honor and service and sacrifice and we talked about his future.  He is so excited to be working towards his Bachelor's degree. 

After my strength training session, I was headed over toward the cardio machines to finish up my workout...Raphael was greeting the next group of women he would help; he kind of sidestepped toward me and thanked me for the talk...it was a good talk.

It was a good talk...it helped me find my words.