11 Sept 2011

9/11 and me: The Wait

A lot can happen in 10 years. A lot does happen in 10 years, for a once 8 year old. 3 schools. 18 qualifications. 4 shoe sizes. 3 hair colours. 1ft 7". 6 countries. A lot changes in time, a lot develops, but it doesn't take a lot to influence an innocent 8 year old's mind. It can take 1 event. An event that doesn't change in 10 years. An event that won't develop, or get easier, or get better. An event that became 'the' event. 

I’m 18. In the grand scheme of life, I haven’t experienced a lot, and I don’t know a lot. But I've been taught a lot, and what I’ve been taught by the world is that bad always exists. We live in a bad world. Not just bad as in loved ones passing away, or a terrible car crash, but bad on a much larger scale. There’s constant risk, and fear, and wait for the next awful event to occur. If something hasn’t happened for about 3 months then I think that something’s just around the corner. I wait for bad. I expect bad. I don’t expect good. I never wait for good.

But I live in a bubble. I live in a bubble and it never crosses my mind that this bad will happen to me. I just watch from the sidelines, tut a little, sympathise a little, switch to a different channel to get different angles of a burning building. A different photo of another dead solider. A different looter. A different set of Libyan rebels. This is where it starts to scare me. I’ve seen so many varieties of disasters with my own eyes, without actually being there, that it no longer affects me. I’m completely desensitised. I watch for the fascination and explicitness, not just the shock and horror. The first time it happened for me, on 9/11, I was shocked at the pure images without fully understanding. I saw planes fly into buildings, I saw people jump out of those burning buildings, and then I saw them collapse. I heard hysterical families, I heard heartbreaking answerphone messages, and I heard the world go into panic. The second time, on 7/7, I saw and heard it an hour away. It was closer to home, and I understood that people wanted to kill people. They wanted to kill families. Our families. The third time? Well, what third time? Take your pick. There’s been a few. Which earthquake hit country would you like me to pray for? Which rebels would you like me to back? Which terrorist would you like me to rejoice in the death of? It’s a necessity. It’s just what happens, right?

10 years ago, when you saw those towers being hit, then collapsing, then disappearing along with the people inside them, would you have thought that in 10 years time the world wouldn't have changed that much and the risk of it happening again is still there? Or would you have thought that being in the future with such development, we could feel safe and know that the world is stable and everything's going to be alright? Because it's not alright. I knew from 8 years old that things were not going to be alright. Things are never alright, and will never be alright, but we sit ensconced in our little lives and just watch things happen 'outside' like a movie reel. It'll affect me soon. I know it'll directly affect me some time in the future, and I accept that, and when it happens maybe I'll suddenly sit up and realise that life shouldn't be like this. That life is incredible, and people destroying that life and the world is not what should happen. But for now, it's normal. And I will watch. And I will not be shocked. And I will wait for something so massively horrific to happen, that I feel emotions I never knew existed.

The world is like a badly written story. You can tell what happens next, you know the future, and you just, well, wait...