Unlike many other people who have told tales of their experience of 9/11, I have little in the way of first hand experience of this day. I wasn't there and didn't know anyone directly... I had turned 32 years old a few weeks before and even as an American citizen (from Washington D.C.) living in London, my mind was far away from New York and the issues that brought about the unfolding of this devastating event. The closest that I can get to '9/11' directly affecting me was when I tried to phone my family who lived in the D.C. and Virginia area to see if they were alright after the attacks. (And not being able to get through - obviously the rest of the world and I had the same idea!).
I had four children, the youngest one just over 18 months old and was busy with toddler stuff, school runs and all the other daily tasks that a young family demands. But when that event happened it shocked me to my core and I can't remember doing anything productive but sitting in front of the 24 hour news, with a 'thousand mile eyes' expression watching it unfold over and over again. The day shocked and touched me as it must have done millions of other people around the world. To me that is what is so significant about this day. The term '9/11' is a term of its own, it needs no explanation or definition. Anyone who was was affected by witnessing the trauma of this day, either for real as a flesh and blood person or from afar understands what happened and what it means. I, like most of the world am a lucky one. I can remember it but not as something that hurt, maimed or killed someone dear to me. I can look on and remember the horror but with a distance knowing that I was not there and would not be personally missing a loved one forever from this date. I would not have to go through in my head what their last moment must have been like or question why it happened to my nearest, my friend or precious one. However I believe the people of the planet and the world as a whole did change after this day. '9/11' touched a chord in the earth's consciousness that still holds sway now, that has changed our perceptions and beliefs and made the world what it is, for better or for worse.
I remember hearing on the radio in the early afternoon that a plane had crashed into one of the towers. It was a beautiful day and I recall thinking 'a terrible accident' and guiltily now I recollect forgetting about it. My mother phoned me, full of conspiracy theories about it being terrorism and I dismissed it. No one would do this and it was just one of those awful happenings that are a part of life. You feel for the people involved with it first hand but carry on with your day, as in reality it is not you. It's an accident, a twist of fate - these awful accidents happen sometimes so what can you do? You are not there and you are not the one having to deal with the pain and anguish.. When I got home after hearing about the initial plane collision I flicked the news on and remember to my horror seeing the second plane going into the other tower. Do I remember how I felt? Yes! Don't we all? Shock, horror, the realization that this was a planned and staged event. Seeing the plane crash in the second tower resonated. In a tiny and meaningless way by watching this we all had to think about the reality that those people on the plane, in the building must have felt a thousandfold times in their last moments. At that moment the truth of the situation struck me and millions of others with a bolt. And of course thinking about the wider picture..... this had been planned! This had been organised. This had been coordinated! Who had done this and why?
Added to the horror in New York yet more news was coming in of plane crashes at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia as well as a further one in Pennsylvania which had been on course for Washington D.C. The sickening scenes of watching the towers being hit was inflamed by the constant news updates and seemed unbelievable but they were true. It sounds corny and it sounds like a cliche but it really was like watching an end of the world movie.
The story does not need to be retold about what happened....... After the towers were struck it took 42 minutes for them to come tumbling down in flames, smoke and dust with everyone watching knowing that the many souls in there were also engulfed in a furnace like scenario and cremated. No words can really describe watching people clinging from sky scrapers and having to make the choice between burning or falling to their death. Or the sound of bodies crashing against the landings during the news shot - not just one or two thumps but one after another and another. Of the towers themselves cascading down like match stick pieces with terrified citizens running for their lives from the scene, covered in ash and soot and looking like ghostly beings. The massive black cloud that swiftly and silently crept through the streets like a dark spirit with people running from it in fear of their lives .... And so it went on....
What was left to see was a gaping pit where the towers had once been replaced by a skeleton like construction with the appearance of ancient ruin or sacred site. The world changed forever that day -yes once again it is an old and used line that has been said a thousand times but it is true. Looking at these haunting images now I feel that the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was the first day of world we live in now. September 12th, 2001 was Day 1 in this weird but still wonderful world that we inhabit post 9/11.
So what did it teach the world? That is a big question for a mere mortal such as myself. As a young woman working as a nurse and living in a South London council flat I remember waking up the next day and feeling shell shocked and dismayed. The world was still turning and people were still getting up and going to work, driving their cars, living their lives. I remember an old saying I heard, it is a Native American quote and I can't remember where I heard it but it goes: 'When a big chief falls a cow must die' and this I feel is true. America was a sleeping giant, a super power that was rocked by what happened and the repercussions have been felt long and hard. When 9/11 'happened' heads were going to roll. And what repercussions and retaliations there have been - a 'War on Terror', invasions, massacres and genocides since this eventful date. I believe much of the displacement of the people of the world has been as a result of the governmental policies after 9/11 which we are still feeling as a reverberation from this terrifying day in history.
When I look at my time growing up in America it was a great place - big and crazy with a pioneering spirit and whether people like it or not it shaped our modern new world. However on the other side of this coin was a country that oppressed many to make it's gains - the black slaves who were mercilessly stolen and estranged from their lands, the Native Indians who were cruelly invaded and had their grounds stolen and blood line made almost extinct. It has made many discoveries which have changed the world but which have also nearly destroyed it, something as simple as the car which we nearly all drive around but which in the quest for fuel has caused many wars, pollution and stripped mother earth of her resources. I had a bohemian, rock and roll style childhood growing up in America and it wasn't all easy but it was real and good and that is how I feel about the country where I was born. I am the daughter of a poor, working class Scottish mother who came to American in the hope for a better future and to escape the poverty she lived in during the 40's and 50's to marry my father, a child of a wealthy, educated family. We grew up without much money but with a lot of culture and chaos. Because of my European influence from my mother I had a different take on the world than many of my all American friends growing up. When I moved back and forth to America and England during my early teens I was often called a 'communist' simply because I had a wider view on social justice and equality due to my experiences in the UK. America before 9/11 I feel was more rigid, less accepting and in a bubble all of it's own. And while other factors have played a part in making it more down to earth such as the spread of information technology which has made all the world feel smaller, I nevertheless think the happenings of 9/11 really opened up America. I feel this painful wound, this horrific incident in history has forced America to look at its own gaping sore and at the rest of the world and learn new lessons for the new age.
The twin towers remind me literally and symbolically of the 'Tower' card in the Tarot deck. The meaning of this card? It signifies a total break down in everything you know, being forced to let go of the old and karmic energies which will destroy anything in it's path - business, finances or any situation which we think is permanent and will last forever. When I go to America now it is different, it feels different, the people have changed. Not in some big, obvious way but it is more part of the rest of the world. Many people are more open and do have some understanding of what goes on outside America compared to days gone by when I was a kid. We have had a black president and everyone generally is more tolerant than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Aside from 9/11 there have been recessions and suffering. But with this suffering I feel the people have become more like the rest of the world. I'm not comparing the first world conditions here to the deprivation and suffering that goes on in the poorest parts of the earth but there is a definite shift that I feel where America has had to loosen up and get real and start thinking about what everyone else is going through.
And the positive meanings of the 'Tower' card? To learn and accept the new changes for the future, to clear away old and unwanted modes of living for a brighter and better life ahead. As a spiritual healer who uses Reiki and other healing modalities in my everyday life I feel that the souls who perished on 9/11 have not gone in vain. They are remembered and people like myself all over the world send them love, light and healing. I believe that their suffering has played a part in the world shift to a higher consciousness which is slowly and sometimes painfully evolving. The bolt of shock that was felt throughout the world that day still affects me deeply every year. Last year I was sad on the anniversary that there was not much talk of it in the news here in London and that time seems to be dulling the horror and pain that was felt. Perhaps this is not so in places such as America, I don't know. I hope with my heart that the world moves on for better but let us not ever forget the many who were struck down - from so many races and creeds all over the world fifteen years ago - on September 11, 2001.