Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Life Altering Events

Despite my general avoidance of all things 9/11-related, I spent part of last night reading a book called The Zero by the immensely talented Jess Walter which contained the following passage about the impact of that day:

“It just surprises me, I guess. Afterward, I thought that everything would change...I don't know...that we would be different. Stores would never open again, businesses shut down...lawyers quit their practices and run into the woods."
In the days after 9/11, everyone talked about it as a life altering event - which I suppose it was, but just not in the way we all expected. It was supposed to be the thing that made us to re-examine our priorities and focus anew on the things that truly matter. Somewhere along the line, though, it seems that all of that became lost. Now, it seems to have in many ways became the "where were you when...” moment of my generation – just as the Kennedy assassination and Pearl Harbor were for previous generations.

I suppose that it’s just too difficult for people to sustain that type of generic mourning. Once the shock off, we begin to crave normalcy and the comfort that comes with our everyday routine. It was the same with the Oklahoma City bombing, the tsunami in Thailand, and the flooding of New Orleans. I think for things to truly change us, we must feel them personally.

So with that in mind, I ask you, what happened in your life that shook you to your very core and fundamentally changed you? What uplifted you and showed how amazing life can be? What tore you down and forced you to crawl from the rubble and build your life anew? What event in your life was so profound that you could never look at things the same way again?
Or you could just tell me that my theory is wrong...