The Glass Half Empty

Ten years ago I was a glass-half-full sort of person. 9/11 changed all that. I didn’t lose anyone myself, which allowed me to lose everyone, everything. Not having a specific person to remember lets me remember them all. Not knowing them lets me imagine that they were all my brothers and sisters, my parents, my spouse, my friends.

For a long time I dreamed of people jumping. With my fear of heights, that was the most terrible thing. I wouldn’t have jumped, I tell myself, I couldn’t have jumped. I would have called home, I couldn’t have called home, I would have tried to save myself, I would have tried to help others, I would have been powerless, I couldn’t have changed anything, I would have screamed, I wouldn’t have been brave. All these things I know, and yet, I know nothing. I wasn’t there, thank all the powers in the universe. But somehow I’m still there, and I know that I can never leave.

I’ve tried to keep the flame of love burning ever since. Tried not to think of burning. Tried to think about how life goes on. Yesterday at lunch the kitchen staff was speaking Arabic, the Somali woman in a peaceful blue hijab smiled at me. I wanted to feel the love, but the flames licked around the edges of my heart. Something in me is cold now, changed, and not for the better. Ten years should be long enough to forget a little, maybe even forgive a little, but I can’t manage it. It wasn’t my nightmare, but it still fills me with rage and trembling. Tolerance is hard won now, acceptance is so much harder to come by.

Hope does shine out of the darkness, but now I know fear. It shadows me on the brightest days, although I hate to admit it. I fear tomorrow, the tenth anniversary, still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Psychologists should have coined the Other Shoe syndrome, I think many of us suffer from it now. There’s still goodness in the world, of course, and compassion, and love. And there’s innocence, even though I feel that most of mine has been stolen, now that I know that there are people who will gladly die to kill people like me, innocent though I may be.

I see crazy shadows now, hear things that aren’t there, fear where no threat has been proven. All this, yet I wasn’t even there, not even anywhere close. All this, yet I lost no one. All this, because I lost faith, trust, in human kindness, in peaceful solutions, in negotiation and compromise, in underlying goodness, in the thread of humanity that I thought ran through us all.

Last night Shel took this picture of the moon, and although I know it’s the same moon that shines over Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and every other part of the world where terror reigns, I try to let it fill me with peace.

I no longer believe that there will be peace in our time, nor that we can save the world from itself, nor do I even really try. In the end, that’s what I lost on 9/11: I lost the vision of peace, and without that, full moon or no, the world often seems a very dark place. Still, somehow, I keep on looking for the light, and if it exists somewhere, I hope to find all of you there.

Explore posts in the same categories: French Letters Visits America


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9 Comments on “The Glass Half Empty”

  1. Eden Says:

    I remember Ireland’s great troubles and beleiving they would never acheive peace, but today hardly anyone thinks of Ireland as a land of terrorism and endless violence the way they once did, so while it may take a long & hard road to get there I believe that someday we can find peace again despite it all

  2. Henk Says:

    Beautiful text, Abra. It fit me as a glove. As a Belgian, I did not have to suffer the dramatic impact of 9/11, but terrorisme and the clash of the “Cultures”, who even gave birth to people like Breivik, does give me the same feeling.
    Just as you I am losing my believe in human kindness!
    Luckely, there’s always Bach.

  3. docsconz Says:

    Beautiful, poetic post, Abra. You have hit the nail on the head.

  4. Paula Says:

    This is really beautiful.

  5. Debra Lane Says:

    This is really one of your best Abra!

  6. jessica Says:

    My tears flowed as I read your piece Abra. I agree with Debra, this is one of your best. Thank you.

  7. nancie Says:

    Beautiful……so eloquent… have succinctly & poetically written what has been floating in my mind & heart for 10 yrs. looking for a concise and powerful way to express it. Thank you Abra.

  8. I was very moved by your words.

  9. Loving words and wonderful pictures too… but
    Ireland (and South Africa too for Goodness sake!) keep me believing in the human spirit. Certainly they show us that patience and reconcilliation is possible.
    The moon of peace shines on everyone and there are people of all faiths who yearn for peace. The U.S. (except for the “Civil” War) has so very few battle scares compared to the rest of the world.
    The following bumper sticker is my favorite; “If you want Peace work for Justice.”
    Deranged minds attacked the Twin Towers (bungling the first attempt and doing what we thought was unthinkable in the second attack.).
    I admire you, Abra, for identifying with all who lost their lives and your words remembering that day reminded me vividly of the feelings of disbelief that day brought But fear doesn’t seem to me to be your syle. so it goes without saying that I hope your feelings of hope are restored soon
    Bon voyage. I’ll be following your wonderful blog in the coming months. Now I’m going out to find some Tomatillios for salsa a la Abra. 😉

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