9/11: Only Time.

Via elephant journal
on Sep 11, 2011
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“Who Can Say Where the Road Goes…Only Time.”


“Some plane’s flown into the World Trade Center in New York,” Ray told me, as I walked out of my cottage up at Chautauqua. I shrugged.

Sh*t happens every day, right? I arrived at work and Jeff and Una were hunched over the laptop. A second plane’s hit, they told me.

Everything changed.

We didn’t work—and work is all we did, normally. We wound up at Foolish Craig’s, a restaurant we loved that had a TV (way back in 2001, we still turned to TV, first). Everyone in Boulder was wandering around, stunned, silent. Later we gathered at the Corner Bar, and watched President Bush’s speech, praying he wouldn’t turn this sadness and love and outpouring of love for America into war on someone else. He gave a great speech. I sighed with relief.

My uncle Jeffrey lived blocks from the WTC. Filthy ash coated his windows. We all had friends in NY. The phone lines were jammed, we all remember. Flags were taped to front doors of shops. I remember being disappointed that our Buddhist church wouldn’t hang a flag on the front. It’s a symbol of community, I pleaded. Later, I’d be proven wrong.

A nation, and world, were inspired by those firefighters: they ran toward danger. Everyone wanted to wear an FDNYC cap or sweatshirt. Ballplayers wore ’em.


Nothing I can say or feel about 9/11 hasn’t been said or felt by others, already. That’s what makes this day so powerful: we all shared the same moment. What we did after…that was as different and disparate as our great, partisan nation. But those first days and weeks…I remember that Enya song [below], playing on the radio. I remember photos of people all over the small world holding up the stars n’stripes in solidarity against violence.

And then we got violent. The America I grew up being proud of, and wanting to serve—the America I still love—is the adult at the table. Mature, big about things, idealistic, brilliant. Like Superman. Our Founding Fathers—a collection of human beings every one as genius as any of the great women and men we’ve known in the 200 years since.

I love this big country, with all our speed or arrogance or anger, —I understand it. Thing is, in times of fear, it’s easy to be angry. But why do we love this country? Individual liberty, collective compassion—not the Patriot Act, not TSA, not killing civilians in the name of fighting terrorism—which can best be defined as the deliberate killing of civilians, or innocents.

I’m proud of President Obama. He’s tried, without much support on the left (yes, you) and with a knee-jerk “No!,” bigoted, game-playing right, to support the melting pot, can-do, middle-class American dream. Time was, I could have voted for Abe or Ike or Teddy. Now, I look to Huntsman or Paul, and see things I like. But Bachmann? Perry? Romney? They’re good looking action figures for a partisan sport, not public servants.

These are the best of times, the worst of times. There’s 100x more farmers’ markets than there were just 20 years back (I just interviewed conservative, God-loving Joel Salatin, a farmer who eloquently embodies many of elephant’s values). On the other hand, 99% of our crops are GMOs owned by a corporation dedicated only to its own bottomline, and childhood obesity and diabetes is rampant.

So where does this American road go? I can’t wait to walk it. We’ve been given so much by this country. Let’s give back by living ordinary life, properly. This is a time for love. Family. For activism. For meditation, and outdoor sports, bicycling, and independent film. For entrepreneurship. For doing the dishes and ending factory farming and enjoying fairly-sourced coffee.

I love what elephant, closing in on 1 million unique readers a month (Google Analytics) is becoming—and what that is can’t be pinned down. It’s infinitely diverse confluence of backgrounds and interests—it’s community, kula, sangha.

It’s what we saw after 9/11: a nation joined by compassion—not a nation separated by fear.



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6 Responses to “9/11: Only Time.”

  1. Anon says:

    Waylon, I normally love your writing, but you might want to rethink how the quote "sh&% happens every day" sounds in the article… I know it is meant as a preamble to knowing the full situation and then obviously empathizing, but to many people I think it might reinforce the stereotype that Boulder is full of self-centered young people who could care less about the rest of the country. Great piece otherwise, just my 2 cents.

  2. elephantjournal says:

    I hear you, and agree that it's an unfeeling quote.

    I'm not here to impress others, I'm here to share openly and honestly…and it's an important point…that for many of us all over America we'd never experienced such an attack on our home…it wasn't even something we could imagine. I didn't know anyone had died, at that point…I thought it was a small propeller plane, I thought of JFK Jr. The point is reflected in that unknowing ignorance—9/11 went straight to our national heart. We were unprepared on an emotional, heart level. Thanks. Yours, Waylon

  3. elephantjournal says:

    <a href="http:// wwww.facebook.com/elephantjournal” target=”_blank”>http:// <a href="http://wwww.facebook.com/elephan…” target=”_blank”>wwww.facebook.com/elephantjournal

    Where were you when you first heard about it? What were you doing? Plus, Enya's song from that first week, remember?
    Cher Chronis I was living and working in NYC and unfortunately saw the whole thing happen right before my eyes. 🙁

    Raynbow Anne Rotar I was in my bed & awoke to hearing it all going on live over the radio which was my alarm for work at the time.. I sat there in complete shock as though I had entered the Twilight Zone, terrified, extremely sad & more confused then ever before.

    Donna Runion I was getting ready for a job interview in Houston, Texas and turned on the TV for background noise. The report came on and I immediately called the person I had the interview with and said, "I don't think I should come there today." He asked me why just as the second plane hit. I started screaming and hung up the phone to try to call friends I knew worked in the World Trade Center and of course could not get through. The guy never called me back but at the time I was so devastated, I didn't care. Cried so hard for so long, I think every cell of my being hurt.

    Erica des Roches I was in Miami Beach brushing my teeth, getting ready for work. After the first plane, I thought ' wow, crazy accident!', after the 2nd plane ' omg, we're in trouble!', after the 3rd plane 'this is it. We're at war with some very dangerous people.' Where's my family right now?!

    Christian O'Neil on my chiropractor's table. Oddly enough, the low back hurts today too. Hmmmm….

    Randi Hitchcock I was in my sophomore year of college at Univ of Maine. Went to class around the time the first hit happened, had no clue. Our professor sat quietly at his desk until we all arrived. He told us to leave class, go turn on CNN and call someone we love. As soon as I turned on the tv, they reported about the 2nd attack. It was such a sad day.

  4. Anna says:

    I live in New Zealand. I was 12 and my mother shook me awake early before school and we all went out and watched the breaking news story on tv. Nothing happened that day. Everyone watched the news and tried to call family and friends in America. I spent the whole day trying desperately to understand why someone would do something like that. Still no answer. The only good was seeing the love and support from all over the world as we all came to stand my America in their time of need. Much of the world came together that day despite the great tragedy.

  5. yogamatt says:

    I don't understand why the politics had to be interjected in the mix. "He’s tried, without much support on the left (yes, you) and with a knee-jerk “No!,” bigoted, game-playing right,"

    bigoted? I don't quite get that. Not that I think there aren't bigots; but they're on both sides.