Today they finished cleaning up the site of the World Trade Center in New York. Looking at the photos, it's hard to believe it's the same place that two giant buildings came crashing to the ground.
Even though I wasn't directly involved (if you don't count me getting laid-off), the events of September 11, 2001 had a profound effect on me that I don't really understand myself. Almost nine months later, I feel like I never processed what actually happened.
More than 2,800 people died in New York alone. All things considered I can't believe it wasn't more. While I feel bad to think about it, the most disturbing part for me isn't the people who died, it's the fact that this amazing piece of engineering is just gone, wiped from the face of the Earth. Maybe I can identify with that better because I didn't know anyone who was killed.
This isn't to say that I'm not a little overwhelmed at times. When I see a woman carrying a photo of her husband, killed in the disaster, it gets to me. The images from prior disasters, the bloody child at Oklahoma City, the crying teenagers at Columbine, the mourning families from any recent plane crash... these things always get to me.
I like to build stuff. When I was a kid it was erector sets and Lego, and these days it's software. I love to watch a roller coaster go from an open space to a magnificent thrill ride. Maybe it's this will of creation that connects me to the loss and destruction of a building. Whatever it is, it seems to be a metaphor for what we as a nation will do next... keep on building.
No matter what they decide to do with the site of the World Trade Center, I know that our force of creation will be sustained. Individually we'll keep building skyscrapers, software, roller coasters and Lego toys.
In the mean time, I think I need to be sad just for a little longer. Then I'll be ready to continue my force of creation.