That Tuesday morning was still, fresh, full of promise. But like many mornings, instead of reveling in the day, I lay in bed. At 8:30 am, after putting the dog out, I turned on NPR. My motivation sagged as I sulked back under the covers.
I wasn’t certain why I felt increasingly hopeless about my life, other than weekends on the river in the sparkling sun and cozy nights in a tent were long finished as was the company I had kept. As the river dried to a trickle, so did summer and my vigor. Instead of anticipating what would prove to be a stunning Indian Summer, all I could see was darkness, even before the emergency interruptions and announcements began on NPR.
By 9:45 am the Federal Aviation Administration had called for all air flights, an estimated 4,500, to land at the nearest airport.
The San Luis Valley usually shelters its residents and visitors from the frantic pace of cities and the two most obvious reminders of the outside world, jet engines and contrails, had been erased from the skies. The utter silence from the sky and from a stunned people was marked by increasingly disturbing information in the following days. It told us that we had not been paying attention. All politics aside, we couldn’t see how much we possessed, how little we actually needed, what we took for granted, or how little we shared or gave.
I hadn’t been paying attention. I hadn’t been listening to myself or others. I was shocked out of my stupor.
The mood at work, when I finally arrived with a thoroughly legitimate excuse, was somber, aching, and many of us were frightened. Others were amped to fight. Students on the Adams State College campus rallied to support the grieving families and confused survivors and to call for peace. I joined them.
On that September morning when I lay in bed wanting to die while so many others had, perspective arrived at the foot of my bed and crept into my consciousness. My life wasn’t bad or boring, or worse, violently altered as so many others had been. I simply wasn’t making proactive decisions about who I was and where I wanted to be. I saw a reason to be better, to get better, to appreciate and to join in the direction of my own life. As a cloud of on-going trouble settled over our nation, my cloud lifted very slowly, which still seems contrary and wrong considering the events of that terrible day.
While it would still be a few years before I sought the help I needed, I believe that day showed me all I took for granted and turned me in the direction I needed to walk in order to find myself again.
By Matthew Ramirez