What if 9/11 never happened? How would our lives be different today? To be honest, I don’t know if it would be much different. As Americans, we were taking much of our freedoms for granted. How could we think that it would never happen here? Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.
There are some everyday changes that have occurred since the attack. Body scanners at the airport, pat downs that are demoralizing, and now we have to take our shoes off every time we go through security. Did the terrorists get their way to collectively change our everyday habits?
Going to the top of the World Trade Center was part of my life’s “bucket” list. My husband and I had planned a trip to New York City that October but 9/11 occurred. Instead we went to the site and paid our respect. It was quiet, strange, and not the city I remembered. Everyone on the subway was nicer and had more patience. Maybe people were thinking: “…at least I was alive to enjoy another day but the victims had no choice.”
On the morning of 9/11 my husband and I were up early getting ready for our long 2 hour commute. The alarm rings at 5:00 am, walk the dog, shower, breakfast, and be out the door by 7:00 am. However, this day was different. Charles Gibson from ABC NEWS was on the television and one tower was burning. As I watched in shock, another plane hit the second tower. I turned to my husband and said “we’re going to war.”
Today, I’ve been thinking about the forks in life’s road. If I made that choice, where would I be today? Or what if the choices were already made for you? In my opinion, there are two types of choices: the ones you make and the ones that have already been decided.
Perhaps it all goes down to control and lack of it we have. The daily choices become easier because we have “power” over them:
What am I going to wear today?
Will I call my mom today?
What will I have for breakfast?
What emails do I have to respond to?
What time will I take the dog for a walk?
However, we can’t control who’s driving on the road when you get in your car. We can’t control who’s shopping at the mall. We can’t control what others think. We just can’t control everything. But, I can control my decisions.
Perhaps the poet Shel Silverstein had some insight with his poem Whatif:
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the choices and what ifs our nation has made and will make. Our innocence was lost that day or maybe it was already gone. We were forced to become aware and now there is no more excuses.