A Reaction

Non-gaming post.

As an American, today is an interesting day for me. Like anyone over the age of 18, I remember exactly where I was in September 10 years ago. I was walking back from one of my classes to my apartment near the University of Florida’s campus, talking to one of my neighbors who I ran into randomly. The banality of the walk was in stark contrast to the impending reality I was about to face. Splitting company from my neighbor, I made the short walk across the grass courtyard of the complex to my apartment, entered the kitchen to make some toast, and then sat down on the couch to watch some TV in between my courses for the day.

The videos of the first tower going down were on every channel, so it was without fail that whatever station I tuned into, I was going to get the information that has become permanently brazed into the grey matter between my ears. It seems odd now, but at the time, my first reaction to what I saw was so nontraditional as to be laughable: I thought Die Hard was on. I sat down, jelly on toast in front of me, ready to watch John McClane kick some terrorist ass, as the slow realization started to drape itself on me in the physical manifestation of a tightening skin, and a parched mouth.

The recognition came in discernible blocks of processed information:

  • That’s not Chicago.
  • That’s one of the twin towers.
  • No buildings get reduced to foundations in any Die Hard.
  • Where’s Bruce Willis?
  • Real news logo in the corner.

I carefully put the plate of half-eaten toast on the coffee table and walked out into the courtyard, leaving my door wide open, and immediately walked over to a neighbors apartment. Everyone was friendly with each other, and doors were often left unlocked in the trusting habit of young adults who share close confines. I needed other humans around to help me process this profound shift in reality, and confirmation that I was, in fact, still sane. I entered their living room, and saw two others sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, and sat down in the chair, with barely a word spoken. No need for explanation of my presence, or announcement of the situation was needed.

The three of us quietly watched as the second tower fell.

Afterward, there was the expected male reaction from all of us; full of profanity’s, long exhales, proclamations of patriotic duty and potential actions as citizens. We were young, and had our world shaken like a can of paint, we had no similar experience to draw on for guidance on how to react, and we were blindly reaching about for something firm to hang onto for us to cope. Of course, that night, all of us got blindingly drunk – it was college. I recount this, as in endings (this is AN ending, not THE ending) you tend to look back at beginnings.

So, the announcement that bin Laden was killed yesterday by a U.S. military op doesn’t leave me a state of profound joy or elation. I didn’t really get the singing and exultation of people outside the White House last night, as I sat in bed watching the news report and the President’s address to the nation, while listening to my wife’s snoring heavy breathing. I don’t fully comprehend what celebration I should be taking part in here. I have a quiet satisfaction that the perpetrator of a heinous crime has been brought to justice, and that there is one less fear in the world, but I contrast that with the realization that the man who is now at the bottom of the ocean has probably been out of commission in terms of effectiveness for a while now. All these thoughts and feelings are only compounded by the sad idea that all of this came about by the death of many, MANY people.

So, I will joke, and find comments by people funny. I will even re-tweet humorous messages that tickle my funny-bone. Laughter is a great tool to use in dealing with a situation that exceeds our cognitive mind’s ability to process. It’s like a pressure valve necessary to stop the destruction of system, without it, joints will break, and everything will malfunction. Introspection will come later, and is a process of time. Let the political predictions, the jaded commentary, and the religious fervor fall to the wayside if you can. I’m going to try to just remember that, as heinous as it is, a form of man’s justice has been carried out by our amazing military/intelligence, and there is more humor in our attempts to self-regulate than I think most of us would care to admit.