Sunday, September 11, 2011
A New York State Of Mind
When I was in the eighth grade, I traded a Bon Jovi cassette tape for a bulletin board with a musical note on it at a Christmas party. I don't know why I didn't like Bon Jovi because everyone else did and obviously, I had not seen enough of Jon Bon Jovi in pictures or on television to be swayed by his charisma. Today I saw him perform at the VH1 9/11 concert while at the gym which made me wish I had that tape. Like some people I know, the tenth anniversary attention depresses me because so much has changed in ten years. Three people I loved have died, I almost died, and while I remember the day clearly, I also remember my personal life being in a shambles, my car in the shop (Snowflake was purchased a mere month later), and the beginning of some hard times for so many who had lost people, hope, a sense of safety, and much more. I choked up a little as I continued in my slow way on the treadmill, noting that Billy Joel was a favorite of the crowd, especially when he played "New York State of Mind" and Jay Z and the Goo Goo Dolls didn't quite get the same emotional reaction. For the first time, I felt some of the spirit of the day instead of the numbness I had been experiencing, the contempt for the signs that read I Will and list things people can do to commemorate the day. I thought in a bitter way, I Will sit on my ass.
In mass last night, the priest said we have to forgive the terrorists. This, of course, is a radical message. It's hard to forgive someone who lost your favorite sweater, much less the Taliban. But the Bible is not an easy book and forgiveness, which sounds so simple, turns out to be the toughest lesson there is. The first person recorded dead at Ground Zero was a Catholic priest, a gay man, a recovering alcoholic, and a chaplain to the firefighters. He was delivering last rites when he was mortally wounded. The firefighters carried him out of the rubble, his spirit already to the afterlife. Of course, this modern day version of the Pieta breaks the heart. But it is with a broken heart, we realize how much each day matters even as we grouse about all the little irritations of our daily life. How wondrous it is, how sad, how beautiful, how difficult. But for now it's what we have. When Bon Jovi sang about how he wasn't going to live forever, but he was going to live while he was alive, the crowd went wild. It's not an easy thing to remember, but maybe that's what I will do, at least for today.