Sunday, September 16, 2001  [!]

A good story, the link sent to me in email: Woman, Dog guide Blind Man down 70 WTC floors.

Searching for a New Normal My capacity for taking this all in is not as great as the capacity of the net and news media sources for putting it all out here. I find I've now got to make some sort of a conscious choice about how much to let in at a time.

I've only watched an hour or so of TV, back on Tuesday. I've been glued to the web, listening to NPR (though not as much over the weekend), and reading various news sources. I've been inundated. I hate to think of the kind of inundation that comes from sitting, slack-jawed, in front of the TV news. Right now I'm glad I don't have a TV. I walked by a TV yesterday, and saw, once again, the fireball explosion of the second tower being hit. I can't help but watch it. But I'm glad I don't have a TV where I feel as though I can't help but watch it each time that someone else decides to play that tape again.

A toast for our times A friend of mine makes this toast: "Confusion to our enemies!" When I'd heard and clinked glasses to it, I was amused, as I thought, who might those enemies be? (no one came to mind, really. Competitors, maybe). But in the last couple of days I've found myself offering that toast. My amusement is gone, replaced by a grimness.

I'm afraid for what's to come. The xenophobia and acts of aggression against foreigners is frightening. I am afraid of living in fear. I've seen it in myself. I'm afraid of what's unfolding now.

The problem with assumptions, motivations There have been a set of responses to this terrorist act. "Let's do blah blah blah, because if we don't, then those terrorists have won." It assumes some motivation on their part, something that they want us to do, that they want us to be. They want us to give up our freedoms and civil liberties. They want us to not congregate outside. They want us to not concentrate on our work. etc.

I don't know what "they" want. I do not know. I don't think that we can know.

I hope that instead I can—and we can—speak of our actions in terms of our own motivations, which, presumably, we have some knowledge of (I want things to be normal! I want September 10th! I want to reclaim my life back again; I don't want to be ruled by fear!).

I think that second guessing their motivations assumes some kind of rationality on their part. Maybe even a "what would I want if I were in their shoes." I think that is, frankly, unimaginable. (heck, this whole thing is unimaginable).

From rationality to chaos Part of this shock and grief is letting go of an assumption of rationality. That assumption falls away in stages; it takes time and waves of dismay for the expectation of rationality to disappear. I know because I've had the unfortunate experience of being on the receiving end of some reprisals and legal threats from a person who I'd previously assumed was rational. At first I asked, Wait, can't I reason with this person? It took a little while to allow for a new perspective, where my assumption of rationality gave way to an acknowledgement of chaos.

We have the same thing happening here. Rationality has given way to chaos. What can we do? I'll drink a toast of confusion to our enemy, but I think my deeper wish right now as I search for a new normal is for clarity for myself. Clarity for ourselves.

From confusion to rationality Do not assume rationality from those terrorists. Cling, instead, to your own rationality. Know yourself. My wish right now is that I be able to act on my own motivations. Am I acting from within, or reacting against "what those terrorists would want?"

I still want to understand. I want to read that article from 1998 that's a backgrounder on training of terrorists, one that maybe addresses motivation. But I'm not able to handle it today. I need to take a complete break.

I still have family members to call and some others to touch base.

And, important for the long term, I need to put myself in a situation where I can experience—for the first time in nearly a week—the sensation of actually getting work done. I will pull the ethernet plug from this computer and pack it and myself off to a coffeehouse away from a net connection.

If you happen to have meandered by here today, thanks for stopping by. I wish you clarity. I wish you rationality.