Weekend Whirl

Repetition, Repetition, Art: Stories about 9/11

Practice has always bored me, ever since piano lessons so many years ago. I like mastery, but I’m not that into repetition. It bores me and I have to convince myself that practice is worthwhile. But it is repetition that increases our skill at any given pursuit and that makes it powerful.

Poets and writers sometimes use repetition deliberately, skillfully, carefully to increase the dramatic effect of what they’re saying. Often the media uses it like a bludgeon, smashing whatever power it has and dulling our senses instead of sharpening them. The recent wall-to-wall coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 exemplifies that and though I avoided much of it since I don’t own a tv, there were a few stories that stood out.

Many of the stories about the Pentagon crash were new to me, since we just moved here a few months ago and the fate of the Twin Towers dominated so much of the national coverage. We noticed how visceral the events of 9/11 remain for people who lived through it while the rest of us tuned in from afar.

What struck me about the stories below is the perseverance of each person. It takes determination and sometimes daunting daily tasks to survive the unspeakable and restore life from mere existence back into art. It takes love, and patience, and kindness.

Woman Who Lost Parents on 9/11 Will Always Wonder: Why?

by Dan Zak, Washington Post, September 8, 2011

Life can stop at any second, she says, so it is precious. Think about how you should lead your life now.She sets the kitchen table with chopsticks, nudging each pair into parallel formation.She has come to one other conclusion: She will never have peace. Whatever’s truly in her heart cannot be identified, cannot be put under a microscope, cannot be diagnosed, studied, cured.

But focus on the pathology of life — the “Why?” — and it can kill you. So you pull back. You zoom out as far as you can, and a single day becomes a week becomes a month becomes a year becomes a decade.

Little Noticed or Known, They Bear Scars of That Day

by Eric Moskowitz, Boston Globe, September 6, 2011

They are the rarely noticed casualties of the terrorist attacks: the security guard, the ticket agent, the baggage handler on the ramp. They made it home that night, but with images they couldn’t shake, a pain uncomfortable to voice. They can’t believe it has been 10 years. They can’t believe it has only been 10 years.


9/11 Widow Still Trying to Find Her New Normal

by Eli Saslow, Washington Post, September 2, 2011

It was a Monday morning 10 years later, and they had regained control…

It was a Monday morning 10 years later, and they were still falling apart.


A Moment of Silence

by Steve Friedman, Runner’s World, August 2006 via Longreads

“What do I think about?” he says. “God, just about everything. Am I on target for my marathon goal? How am I going to pay my daughters’ college tuition? Do I have good retirement plans?”Some days–one of life’s mysteries–he thinks of that terrible morning five years ago.