Remembering 9/11 and Doing What We Do by Marie Cartier
I remember 9/11. I was having phone sex with a woman from Chicago that I was seeing and I had just come back from Chicago to Los Angeles the night before. I was on the phone with her…and we were doing what people do…we were doing what we do when we are in love long distance…and then she said to me, “Turn on the T.V…” and I did. And the towers were collapsing. Jesus.
Days later I remember all of us lighting candles all across the city and coming together…it was such an incredible time of coming together and then it got ugly and full of war.
I remember all these images of people at first “being there” for us in the U.S.—even Native Islanders in Papua New Guinea singing and playing I think a conch shell and then it got ugly and full of war.
I remember standing in front of my Southern California apartment with the 25 other apartments arranged around a pool with my candle lit and I remember singing. “Go to the very edge where the summer ends and something else begins. Something else begins,” a song of renewal from my Wiccan circle sung at the changing of the wheel at Equinox.
I remember going to a lecture at Claremont and Dr. Marjorie Suchocki talking about process thought and asking, “Where is God in 9/11? God is with the people who fight back. Who helped each other.” The priest and the firefighter who do what priests and firefighters do. They went back into the buildings and rescued people. Cared for people. Gave last rites. I remember being at a Wiccan Ritual at this time, the turning of the year, two weeks after 9/11 and an older woman statuesque with bright white long hair saying “We are witches. We will do what witches do.” What should we do? How can we help? We are witches. We will do what witches do. Heal. Tend. Nurture. Bless.
That’s all any of us can do. What we must do. As artists, as doctors, as mothers, as students, as teachers…we do what we do to the best of what we do – that’s what we do. It takes the memory of 9/11 to remind us why we go the extra mile. For me, that is answering all the student e-mails, doing the research to create the new learning unit, staying up way past midnight –-again—processing all the add/drops so students do not lose their financial aid when their classes have been dropped …so students can get into my class, any class, if that is the option they have to stay in school. But it is not the extra mile, right? It is living as if we go the extra mile because it is how we do things. We do things because we do things because it is what we do. The world is a better place because we live here.
This is not just the small space of here, it is the large space of here, not just my small family, but the huge family, and not just my tribe of friends, Facebook and otherwise, but all of the people here that I am taking the journey with…all of us spinning on this blue planet….the Native Islanders blowing a conch shell for the Americans who were grieving. For me at that time spending hours trying to get through to New York, to my brother, who lived in the Village but how did I know that he was not visiting that section of New York at that time? I did not know. I did not know for so long. And they were blowing the conch shells for me—because that is what they do. I am not a Native Islander, not even a New Yorker, I am a Californian…but I was part of that energy transference. I knew they were playing for me as I dialed and dialed my brother’s number.
Yes, “we are the world,” as the lyrics sing. And in the coming election—to paraphrase another oft quoted phrase—“Yes, we can.”
Yes we can; if we do what we do– because it is what we do– and we continue to do it. We do what we do because it is what we do: and in difficult times, we roll up our sleeves and do what we do.
“Hope is a dangerous thing,” says Andy Dufrane in Shawshank Redemption, as he digs himself out of prison. As we remember 9/11 this month, and how we did what we did because we are who we are, let us re-attach ourselves to hope. Hope for a better world as this election draws closer. Hope—it’s a dangerous thing.
Oh, yes, we can.
Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; and an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University. She is also a first degree black belt in karate, Shorin-Ryu Shi-Do-Kan Kobayashi style. Ms. Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.