Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In Remembrance

This is a special post in remembrance of 9/11, and is not part of the series I've been posting.  I will continue posting parts of that series tomorrow..

12 years ago, I was in the "Art Barn" at Covenant College.  I had signed up for an oil painting class that year.  I never finished that class (a fact that still makes me sad sometimes).  That was a really tough year for me, as I was struggling in more areas than one.  I believe that was the year I developed insomnia, which eventually got so bad that I only slept about 2 hours a night, before I finally discovered melatonin.  I remember we were having some fun that day - we were all painting together, and someone had brought in a boombox, and I remember at some point we had listened to Disturbed's "Down With the Sickness" and a few of us had been doing our own impressions of the vocalist.  I can't hear that song without remembering that day - it's kind of an appropriate soundtrack to that day, I guess.  The art professor was named Kellog, and he had the most soothing voice I'd ever heard.  This fact made the core class he co-taught (which was basically a music and art history/appreciation class) very difficult to stay awake for, as it was a 1:00 class right after lunch, and on the days he taught, Kellog would turn off the lights to show us slides of paintings and hypnotize us all to sleep with that low, soothing voice of his.  Kellog came in while we were painting and goofing off to our music on 9/11 and told us one of the World Trade Center towers had been struck.  The enjoyment of the moment in each others' company was instantly broken.  It was very surreal - unbelievable, really.  Class was dismissed immediately, and I went back to the dorm hall I lived on, and everyone had gathered in one of my hallmates' rooms, as he was one of the only TV owners on the hall.  

I can remember the questions that poured into my head "why?  Who would do this?  What possible justification could they give for it?"  

But somehow I never bothered to ask the same questions when our country proposed invading another country that the perpetrators weren't even residing in.  Why didn't I make the connections?  Why couldn't I see that we were fighting fire with fire?  Violence with violence?  Fear with fear?  Hate with hate?  Why did it take me so long to come to the realization that we were trapped in a self-perpetuating loop?

Why couldn't I understand that my own darkness that I was struggling with at the time was a form of this very same self-perpetuating loop of fear and anger and hate?

Because of my own darkness, I struggled to have any real empathy with the situation of 9/11 - I remember feeling this strange feeling of guilt that I wasn't more sad.  But I did feel fear.  I did feel anger.  And 9/11 was like a proof that there was no hope for humanity for me, as I'm sure it was for many others.  It never really struck me until years later how significant it was that this act was perpetuated by a small handful of people, while in the reaction afterwards, hundreds of brave souls sacrificed themselves to save others.  It took me years to realize that love is much stronger than fear or hate.

It wasn't until love broke through that I started to ask the questions that shredded the false images I'd built out of fear.

Before love broke through, I remember on numerous occasions thinking to myself "I never cry.  Why doesn't anything ever make me cry?"  It was the fear, and anger, really.  These were my natural go to, and you can't feel sadness or empathy when you're afraid and angry.  It wasn't until love broke through that tears would flood through when I thought back to memories like this one, and it wasn't until these tears subsided that I stopped crying for myself, and began to weep for others.

Before love broke through, the only joy I could find in the world - a temporary sanctuary from the darkness of my soul - came from trivial pursuits.  I did not seek understanding, I did not think deep thoughts, I did not seek deep relationships, I did not have this deep desire to help other people.  It wasn't until love broke through that I began to feel a purpose to my life, and began to find meaning in life.

I hope for all people that love breaks through soon, and breaks the cycle.

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