Something’s missing from my beach today.
The salt still tempts my nostrils, yes. Same as yesterday. The sand still stays my feet in coarse irritation.
The waves perform their tragedy, singing their dying arias, giving rise to great crescendos, only to succumb to the seashore forever. The tragedy played yesterday, it doesn’t stop today. Repeat and coda, on and on.
The seabirds run their usual races, taunting the lurking waves in their dash for beached plankton. The sailboats still sail. The joggers still jog. The trash still collects. The smokestacks still spew their poison to the heavens.
The heavens, its the heavens. So resplendent today, much more than usual. So gleaming and free and expansive. Undisturbed. The clouds seem lighter, more airy, with room to grow, no ceiling to reach. The birds unfettered, more space to roam, no limits, no obstacles.
The planes. Where are they? What’s my beach — the closest to the airport — without the constant clamor of the world coming and going?
Is it peaceful?
The skies are calm. The bellows of engines silent. Conversations, usually interrupted every minute for a take off, every other for a landing, flow without pause, save for consternation, save for pondering.
The sky is wholly the birds and the clouds and the blue. But is it peaceful?
Replacing the planes is something else entirely. Something bigger. Something far more destructive. Something more potentially hazardous. Hate.
Hate is in the air. More natural than a bird, more common than a cloud, more human than an airplane.
But today, it’s darker than ever. Millions are crying out. Millions have been violated. Millions feel the hate. Instead of just harboring safely in our darkest bowels, it’s bubbling like a cauldron in our guts.
We are hot inside. We are raging. Hate is in the air, as thick as the knee-deep soot and ashes and blood which cover lower Manhattan.
So now what? We boil? Yes. We rage? We must. We call for blood? We react. Our nature tells us to do so.
Is our nature correct? It must be, no? It’s natural. All that's natural is good. All that's natural is essential. All that's natural will come forth. It’s nature. It takes its course.
But isn't it also our nature to love? To feel from the heart? My heart tells me to mourn. To weep. To reach out to my parents, my friends, my fellow man, to let them know of my love.
My gut screams for hate. And I do. For retribution. For the demise of those who endanger me. For blood. My gut is thirsty for it.
But my head is not so easily swayed. My head is smart. Calculating. My head can’t figure it out, not with precision, not like my gut and my heart. Not with such resolve. With my head, I weigh it all out. I am angry, yes. I am scared. I know my fears, though never quite laid to rest, will subside if those threatening, those terrorizing, and those fueling my fears are done away with. I know they must be stopped.
I also know, in most likelihood, the only way to remove that threat is through more violence. Blood for blood. Blood for security. Blood for well being. My mind knows that’s illogical.
How can more blood make me happy? How can more violence make me settled? How can more hate make me love again? It can’t.
So I am at an impasse. In blood for blood, there can be no solace. In love for blood, there can be no safety. In hate for hate, there can be no love.
The world is different today. I am not naive. I know the world I lived in yesterday was one based on ideals. I know the world I live in today will test those values. But can it be a world without love?
Today has turned to eve, the eve has brought the night, and still my roof stands. My friends are somehow accounted for. My goals remain the same. My prayers last night seemed different, but I only wished more saved. I prayed for one solitary man, who accepted other’s differences. I prayed for love to reign on high, while none bent to their knees.
But I know prayers are the ideal. I know that heaven’s not of this earth. That flags, if they must fly, will often fly half mast.
The world is a circle first, there is no top or bottom. The gold of day, brings the black of night, and round and round it goes. Man is evil. Man is good. Man is man, and can be nothing else. Fragile to the wind, he is. Fragile to the waves. Fragile to himself.
Perhaps in fragility, there lies the strength. Perhaps in knowing it all could pass, lies the freedom to live without. To let the winds that whip those flags shake our very foundation, take hold our mighty wings, and guide us back to our place in the clouds.
(Editors note: This piece was written Sept. 12, 2001, edited Sept. 11, 2019.)