Like everyone else who was alive and old enough to form narrative memories on that horrible day, I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the attacks. I remember the questions that came pouring in, the exaggerated death toll, the fear of what it all meant. I remember feeling scared and confused. It proved to be the beginning of a very interesting chapter of my life, one that was to last nearly six years.
We had just gotten back from our first year at Burning Man less than a week earlier, and I was still recovering from dehydration. For weeks after that day, I watched the news during every waking moment, someone who never watched the news. I remember going for a long weekend retreat to a Buddhist Temple in an attempt to make sense of it all. The climate in the US for those many months following 9/11 was quite totalitarian. It seemed that freedom of speech had been replaced by an eerie silence, for if anyone voiced doubt about the official story or questioned the actions of the government, they were told to either shut their mouth (for someone might hear!) or they were called a terrorist sympathizer.
We couldn’t even ask questions.
When I heard, I had just gone into work. At the time, I was working as a massage therapist in Chico, CA, and the appointment was one of my regulars. It couldn’t have been a very relaxing session for him, because all we talked about was the attacks. And he asked some interesting questions. He asked how it could happen in a country with a military might as strong as ours. He hinted at how things just didn’t add up. He suggested that our government must’ve at least known something was going to happen with our excellent intel. I just listened in horror. But all those questions he raised sparked more in me, and I started reading everything I could around the attacks and the workings of the government, which just led to more questions.
All those questions around 9/11, along with the then-pending war in Iraq, evolved into my first film: Liberty Bound, a political documentary. It was my first of two films during this period in my life, one of great political activism and working in the film industry. In 2007, that time came to an end. I’ve left politics behind and have never looked back. For I could see how it had affected me over the years, and it was turning me into someone I didn’t want to be.
Now I write fantasy books for my own sanity.
And here, 10 years later, I think about that awful day and the senseless loss of life. Whoever was behind it or who knew what when ultimately doesn’t matter. The result is the same. I remember editing Liberty Bound, watching that footage over and over and over again, crying uncontrollably. Shouting “they could’ve done something” over and over and over while watching the jumpers, while watching terrified people hang out of windows hoping to be saved. And I just couldn’t understand why they weren’t. Yes. Perhaps they could’ve done something to prevent it, to stop it while it was happening (before the second plane hit, before the pentagon), but they didn’t.
What is, is. Nothing can change the past. It happened, and we remember with love and regret those lost on that day.
Perhaps our nation could’ve responded differently. We had the sympathy and support of the world after 9/11. That is, until Bush destroyed that sympathy and turned it into a severe antipathy. War after war. Arrogance and aggression. Millions more dead. This nation turned the tragic deaths of a few thousand people into millions, and bankrupted the country by doing so.
What is, is.
It’s funny to read some of the old reviews of my film all these years later. I’m such a different person now than the woman who made that no-budget documentary back in 2003. Still, I suppose it touched some people, and for that I am honored.
So today, don’t celebrate. Mourn the deaths of all those people who died on 9/11…and who died because of 9/11. Acknowledge that killing more people in another land and spending trillions doing so doesn’t bring the victims of 9/11 back to life. It doesn’t rebuild the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
Let’s decide in our hearts that we won’t let that happen again. Ever.