So here we are, ten years on. It’s a convenient place for people, us, to stop and reflect. Ten fingers, ten toes, ten years. We’re decimal, it’s part of being human.
I’m not going to ask you where you were on that day. I think it’s safe to say that everyone alive on 9/11/01 knows precisely where they were and what they were doing before, during, and after the attacks. For some, it continues to be a traumatic memory of an event that has no place in a sane world. For others, it’s just a conversation starter, a thing where they compare notes and shake their heads before changing the subject and moving on. For most, it’s a particular memory that they’ll never be rid of simply because of its part in the collective consciousness of America, and maybe the world.
I’m not going to fill this space with my thoughts on the politics of what happened then and since then. Every pundit that can put finger to keyboard is sounding off on that today, sharing their opinions with you, wanted or not. You’ll agree with some of them and disagree with others, just like you would with me. If you know me, you probably know my feelings on the matter. Politics has become a greasy sport in America, getting all over everything it touches and staining it. I’d prefer to keep spots, at least those spots, from tarnishing this blog.
Instead I’m going to talk about progress, and hope. There are times I despair for humanity. I watch the news, I read about some crazy thing in some corner of the world where two groups of people are in conflict over something ridiculous and trivial. They don’t worship the same god, or the right god, or they were born on this side of the river or that side of the river, or they think things should be run by this guy in a funny hat or that guy in a funnier hat. And I look around at the world at all we still have to do, all the hungry mouths to feed, the poverty, the resource depletion and I think, “Man, we’re screwed.” How are we ever going to realize our potential and become better than we are when we can’t overcome our basic Neanderthal nature? Why are we still fighting for scraps around the campfire and bashing each other with antelope bones to have the biggest cave?
It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture out here on the rig. Your attention is always turned inwards, at things on the rig, and you tend to lose track of what’s going on around it. I try to take a little time out of each day to enjoy the scenery though, and I’ve been fortunate to see some pretty amazing things. This morning I was up on the drill floor and as I came around the corner I saw this:
I’ve learned in my time out here that sunrises and sunsets are something pretty special. You have to be in the right place at the right time with the weather cooperating, but when it all comes together it’s a real treat. It’s Mother Earth putting on a show for you, a one-woman show, one day/night only. I always try to stop and enjoy it when I see it. No matter how busy I am, I’ll take at least a moment to stand at the railing and just bask in the glory of it all spread out before me, the reds and golds spilling across the sky, the black brightening to blue or the bright blue fading out. That’s where we come from, in that picture up there, and when we see that it flips a little switch buried in our hindbrains that reminds us of how our distant ancestors gazed in amazement from the mouth of the cave as the Sun returned to warm us after the cold, dark, frightening night. That’s the Source, and we’re all just little critters scrambling around on a big rock trying to make sense of it all while the Sun wheels above us, as oblivious of us as we so often are of it.
I was about to head back to work when I looked down and saw this:
Three roustabouts on their way to work, stopping to enjoy the sunrise too. I could probably count on one hand the number of things I have in common with those guys. We’re all American and speak English, but the similarities end not too far from there. We grew up in totally different environments. We live in totally different communities. We have different religious beliefs, different political beliefs, different family structures. And yet there they were, partaking in one of the most basic of human things, enjoying the beauty of the sunrise.
It gave me pause, and it made me think, “Maybe there’s hope for us yet.” We’ve come a long way in the last ten years, and the last ten thousand years. There’s still problems around the world. There always will be. There’ll always be something beyond the ability of people to deal with and it’ll take more people, or even other people, to come together and make things right again. We don’t always know how it will turn out, but we do the best we can. Even when we’re so different from each other there’s always things that can bring us together, even something as simple as the beauty of the sunrise. We’re all created alike; our differences we manufacture ourselves, and because of that we can manufacture bridges to get past those differences and bring ourselves closer to each other. Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Be that change. Build your little piece of the bridge and when someone else wants to add their piece to yours, hold it in place so they can bolt it on.
If you take anything away from this post, take that. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.