Today marks the 18th anniversary of an event that drastically altered and changed many lives, as well as the idea of "freedom" in the united states. Today it also seems to be almost devoid of history or feeling when I visit ground zero. There is an odd mix of tourist destination meeting a sort theme park vibe with the people visiting the site. I didn't get this feeling when I visited Hiroshima, Dachau, or Auschwitz.
My cousin mentioned visiting the flight 93 memorial last week in Pennsylvania. how touching and moving the design was and how it went beyond the initial ideas and expectation of her mind.
Till this day, I will still remember waking up in Nashville to try to prototype some technologies for a complete immersive show and going tor breakfast in the farmers market and seeing the video of the second plane hitting the building and saying, "That is the most impressive computer graphics I have ever seen."
The man next to me looked bewildered, "You don't know? That isn't fake, it is real."
that's when my mind had a surreal moment to get the idea of what I thought was amazing movie CGI was in fact really happening.
that's when my mind flashed to talking to a a friend the night before who was all excited about interviewing to run the server farms of the trading floor at the world trade centers that morning. Seeing the TV, I had to wonder, "Is she dead or alive?”
A few hours later, I got a call that she was ok. "you will never believe this. I was getting ready for the interview and got a call asking if it was ok to reschedule."
Like the rest of the country, I think I spent the day watching the news highlights inside the oddly quiet soundcheck rehersal studios where it was oddly quiet. A mix of curses, anger, desires to drop nuclear bombs, and overall shock could be heard at various times. I can't even tell you what I worked on that day, but I remember going home to go log in and deal with the west coast issues, and I see an email from a friend who dated Betty.
it was an email telling me about betty’s passing.
It is 18 years later, and I can still remember the sense of shock that came from, "wow, everyone I know on the ground made it out ok. I just never thought about the idea that I knew someone on one of the planes."
What bothers me about the events after 9-11 can be summed up with the blog post a few weeks ago where the photo of the statue of liberty is framed inside metal detectors. When did the USA become the land of the scared, home of the afraid? You have to go outside of the country to see how isolated we are with media inside the USA.
Two things haunt me about betty. One is you can hear her last conversation as she is passing the information along about what was going on in the plane before it hit the first tower. The second is that the only footage of her last moments was from the film documentary guys who happened to look up when that plane went overhead.
it is a surreal reality from the coffee times we had in San Francisco and Sausalito, her folks amazing Chinese jerky and the last words, “pray for us. pray for us.” that still resonate in my mind.
It also has me question the difference in grief. Is it better to go faster, or slower? The irony is dad is propped up the best we can do for him, and he is on his upward swing in moods. He is actually sleeping a bit versus suffering from his sleep apnea cough.
That's my two cents from the early morning. I have to get the business map in place for where we want to move all the controlled environment work. I have a guy in Texas who is dying of cancer that might bring an unexpected shift to a product line. It is sort of like betty dying on 9-11 – it was unexpected.
When life gives you those moments. Take some time to stop and be in the moment. It is incredible what silver lining and gold nuggets you can mine from them.