It was a thought-provoking weekend, indeed. The anticipation that lead up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and then living through the actual day provided more than enough sorrow and anxiety. Our country still carries an open wound and rightly so. 9/11 traumatized our country and ten years later we still feel a collective sorrow. I don’t want to dwell on this in my blog tonight because suffering and pain is an individual presence, and I don’t presume to know what others feel or what toll anguish takes on the victims’s psyche. It is most probably that each mourned in our own private way.
Sunday morning I was happy to have the company of a long time friend who was my house guest for the night. We had danced tango Saturday night and the evening held its usual joy. Another friend of mine was also in attendance at the milonga and she was shear delight. A man I had never spoken to but seen on the dance floor came up to me and told me how much he enjoyed my book, Sixty, Sex & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer, especially the sections with my therapist. I guess he fell in love with Mike, too. A waltz began to play and we danced as if no one was watching. That moment and those that I danced with my dearest friend on the planet possessed a joy that encompassed truth.
What opposite ends of the energy spectrum those two experiences expressed: 9/11 with beyond description pain and the joy of experiencing one’s own passion. Yin and Yang. Polar opposites of energy. Looking back on those 24 hours, it almost seems absurd. How does a human being encompass such extremes of emotion in such a short period of time. I talked with my house guest about the effects of 9/11 on our country’s collective unconscious on Sunday morning as we puttered around the kitchen making Sunday breakfast and catching glimpses of the memorial ceremonies. I thought perhaps those individuals who felt the depth of pain that 9/11 caused would go home after the ceremonies and attend to their families or their chores, stop off at the grocery store, water their gardens, prepare Sunday supper, try to anesthetize their pain with mindless television, and collapse in their beds with a sense that maybe they will never feel happiness again. Or maybe some of the victims families have a divine sense of their place in the universe and see that happiness does indeed live alongside sorrow and what ones strives for is balance. For how can we as humans live in two extreme emotional worlds?
What are our coping techniques? Prayer, work, dancing, painting, music, walking, working out, yoga, meditation? What helps us balance our lives in the middle of extremes?
The week before the anniversary of 9/11, I felt the universe was preparing me to face the agony of the memorial. Just days before one of my oldest friend, my boyfriend in 5th grade, emailed me that two of his close friends, and my close friends when I was growing up, had died. I saw Tom Murray’s green Studie pulling up to my house at 4 Highland Ave. and picking me up early in the morning to take my best friend Pat and myself to Marin Catholic High School. Pat and I loved that green Studebaker. Tom used to take us to get a coke after school. He was a great guy. I remember his father worked at San Quentin prison and he lived on those grounds surrounding that ominous structure. Pretty exotic stuff for high school kids. Tom died recently and so did one of the Cheetham twins. They were cool and so good looking. Pat had a huge crush on one of them. Then, out of nowhere, one of my classmates from grammar and high school lost her adult son. I’m not comprehending these losses as yet. How could my memories be so strong of a time of warmth and caring when we grew up. How could the victims of 9/11 move forward?
It turns out that we can and we will go forward in our live because there is an opposing force of energy that balances us in some divine way, and we have to listen to the joy as well as the sorrow to live a fulfilling life. This is a life with all i’s curves, and swerves, and surprises and changes. Life is not linear. My neighbor said to me today – after she had also lost several people to death last week and was having a very difficult time with the ceremonies of 9/11 – “Why isn’t life what I expect it to be?” The answer: Because it isn’t.