Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Post 9/11, No News Ain't Good News

At least, not for me.  It's almost 13 years since 9/11, and I'm finding that I have developed an interesting neurosis:  the longer I go without news in the morning, the more anxious I become.

On September 11th, 2001, I was at home, alone, with my wife at work and my daughter at her 4th grade class.  I was cleaning the house and had just turned on the television in the family room "for company" while I was vacuuming.  I don't recall what network was on; I think it might have been the Today Show on NBC, but whatever it was, the reporter had a view of the city behind him and I tuned in just in time to see the second plane crash into the Towers, live on TV.  (The only other time I saw anyone actually die on television was when I was in the 4th grade, and I saw Jack Ruby gun down Lee Harvey Oswald during that now-infamous prisoner transfer.  Needless to say, I did not cope very well with either one.)  Later in the morning I saw the Towers fall, fully realizing how many lives had to have been lost.  Later in the week I learned that a friend who worked at the restaurant at the top of the Trade Center narrowly missed being killed when he ran home to get the eyeglasses he had forgotten.  He suffered terrible survivor's guilt for this, and ultimately took his own life a few years later.  A devastating day for so many.

There are mornings when the three of us might like to sleep in and enjoy the quiet of the season, whatever season that may be.  But now, for me, the longer I go without checking the news, the more anxious and worried I become.  I worry that some new awful thing has happened, something that will change our world entirely and forever, and I worry that I am enjoying my peaceful ignorance at some horrible, horrible expense.  To the point where I am, in fact, enjoying nothing at all.  I try to cope, I really do, but I only find some peace when I turn on NPR and realize after a few minutes that nothing has crashed, the President is still alive, and to the best of our collective knowledge, no meteors or comets are about to crash into the planet and extinguish all life.

It's sick, I know.  It's a neurosis.  I'm not sure what to do about it.  I guess as neuroses go, it's relatively harmless, since the worst thing that happens is that I interrupt the peace and quiet of the morning to turn on Morning Edition to make sure that everything is still the way it was yesterday.  I will say that seeing the new World Trade Center building fill that awful hole in the New York City skyline on my last visit to the City helped quite a bit.  But I think I will never be able to spend the day completely unplugged from the news, not ever again.

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