We Must Run - Life Goes On
Article by: Michael SelmanReproduced with permission of the author
I'm a morning runner, but yesterday morning, I did not run. I was tired, and just couldn't get up. Then I came to work and watched as the world as we know it changed forever. I'm sure that 11th September 2001 will develop it's own recognizable label at some future date. The initial impact of yesterday's events has not set in yet, and the long term impact will no doubt be more far reaching than anyone can even fathom at this point.
Yesterday, very little work was done. I spent the day glued to the TV, talking to loved ones repeatedly, trying to get statuses of people I knew who were in the vicinity of ground zero. My boss was less than a mile away from the World Trade Center when the attack started, and she saw everything. It took until after 4 in the afternoon before contact was made with her. She is as okay as any eyewitness can be.
I called my wife Harriet at work at about 4 yesterday, and told her I was going home to run. She didn't sound surprised. Until the world changed, I had not planned to run yesterday at all. But sometimes, you have to run for people other than yourself, and I told her I needed to run, partly for me, but also for the memory of all of yesterday's victims, and because I was not going to allow terrorism to dictate the sacred things I still have control of. My running time yesterday was my symbolic gesture of continuity during a time of turmoil. When I need to pray, my running time is my prayer time, and I just plain needed to pray. If I am grieving, my running time is my grieving time, and yesterday, I needed to grieve. It's my time of self-intimacy, where I am most in touch with myself. My running time is my freedom, and yesterday, I needed to be free. My running time is mine, and yesterday, I needed to wrestle back ownership of myself.
Last night, we had our children over. We don't see them every day, but last night, it was important that we were in the same place at the same time. Harriet's daughter Jenny was already there when I got home from work. When I got back from my run, my daughter Monica was there, and soon afterwards, Jenny's boyfriend Joe came by too. Lissa, Harriet's youngest daughter, is in California, but she remained in contact with us all day. Suddenly, the family unit became exponentially important to us all.
By the time Harriet got home, Monica had already left, due to some personal things she needed to take care of. Even in the midst of world changing events, life goes on. Life goes on. Things have changed, but life goes on. Many things will be different from now forward. Some things will actually be different for the better. Other things will be different in an infamous way. But everything has changed.
Soon, airports will re-open, and many fewer people will be traveling. Soon, the stock markets will re-open, and the overall financial impact of what happened yesterday will become clear. Soon, the unity and generosity of the country and the world will uncover countless thousands of heroes, and will in some way help the collective healing process. Soon, the perpetrators of yesterday's horrendous crimes will be exposed, and definitive, swift, and complete retaliation will ensue. In the coming days and weeks, the world's and nation's mourning will filter down to individual mourning, as the dead are identified, and just about every single person in the country will either know somebody, or know somebody who knows somebody who lost their life yesterday.
Routine is of paramount importance at this point in time. Being thrown off of it gives the terrorists victory. We have to play baseball again, as soon as it is deemed to be safe. We have to open Disneyland, and Disney World again, as soon as it is deemed safe. We have to celebrate life again, as soon as we can respectfully do so. We have to first redefine normal, and then get to it, as soon as we can. And once again, reminiscent of our deepest despair, we must never, never forget. And we must run.
In this time of overwhelming grief, it's important to look for the small victories wherever we can. Simple things like extra long hugs, and never passing up an opportunity to tell someone you love that you love them are vital at this time. And yes, we must run. Running is part of our routine, and a strong foundation of who we are. And we have to find ways to return to who we are quickly. Returning to whatever routine we can as soon as we can is in a very small way a declaration of victory.
God bless you all.
Michael Selman Roads Scholar Atlanta Georgia USAMichael Selman is a freelance writer who has appeared in publications and web sites throughout the world, including Runner's World, Footnotes, and CoolRunning.