September 11th, 2016
Today my seven and a half year old daughter Makenna took me by surprise when she asked me why there were so many American flags. The fall sunshine was glimmering over Young’s Bay, as we headed to their big brother’s Classic soccer match, tunes cranked.
I tried to clear the sudden grief in my throat, and, almost instantly, goosebumps turned to shivers. I choked out the most coherent explanation I could, through quickly welling eyes. I gave a simplistic response, of how it was an incredibly tragic day in the world’s history. I told her that there were men who hijacked and took control of airplanes and flew them into the tallest buildings in the United States.
When September 11th happened, I vividly remember wondering how I could ever explain such tragic history to our yet-to-be-born children.
Yet, some stories need to be retold.
It still felt incomprehensible to explain. I didn’t have the heart to tell her how it’s meant daily warfare ever since, perpetuating cultures of hate and retaliation. I couldn’t crush her innocence. I think my face said everything though. It usually tends to be an open book.
I think my raw emotions shared more than any history book could convey, exposing my genuine grief for the lives irrevocably cut short and for all the loved ones’ lifetime of sorrow.
If I could have continued to articulate my thoughts, I would have told her how I cried nearly every day for months after 9/11, just as I had when my high school friend died. I would have told her that nothing prepares you for death, especially on such scale.
I would have told Makenna, with her front teeth earnestly transforming her girlish looks, how I marched against the Iraq war, walking from Ashland to Medford in peaceful protest. Back when I read and listened to the news, went to lectures, and felt engaged with the current state of affairs.
Yet, I’m aware of the fact I’ve mostly tuned out the world since becoming a mother. It’s partly because I’ve chosen to practice Simplicity Parenting, and intentionally not listen to practically any news on the radio (listening to podcasts and Pandora in my personal time). But to be truthful, I haven’t had the capacity to do anything beyond the “care and feeding” of my family. My own calling toward personal transformation has absorbed rest of my attention.
So, it’s no wonder that this date in history took me by surprise. I’ve become blissfully oblivious of the world’s pain. It does give me sincere pause though. It makes me question my dharma and what legacy I will leave this world. It makes me wonder whether I’ll be brave enough to serve humanity by living and sharing my uniquely authentic life. I wonder what could possibly shape my daughter’s generation, as 9/11 shaped my sudden adulthood.
How can I teach my children?
What kind of leader will I become?