Remembering 9.11

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The Last Smile

Suicide Bombings in America
How do we prepare?
"You can't" they say—
Just make sure the bills are paid
You say "goodbye" every morning
You heed every warning
even, if it means you must
go out of the way.
And now,
More than ever,
You must realize
that every day
is a new one.
A bright one
The right one
to make a difference
to act, to love—to smile,
for it may be your last one.


ignorance overheard on the bus this morning:

"Yeah the FBI and CIA should get their shit together, and you know—cooperate."

"If they pull any more shit here, we should just destroy Mecca. Fuck 'em. They think the Israelis are tough!"

all I could think was "We're done for." If it is not terrorism that will do us in, its our own home-grown ignorance.

While we were standing in traffic waiting to enter the Lincoln Tunnel, the same guy blurted "There's gotta be more to life than this. I can't see guys just doing this for forty years, just standing. It's not like I'm making half a million dollars a year, than I wouldn't mind."

And I thought "And I'm sure half of the people on this bus would not mind if you shut up either."

Before we disembarked from the bus I had to turn around and take a look at the fool who had so much to say. I was surprised because he did not all that stupid. Just goes to show you—looks are deceiving!


Now really, is there a practical way to prepare? Here are a few suggestions:

Make sure all your bills are paid.
Make sure payments on your insurance policy are up to date.
Assess your assets and assign who should have what.
Write goodbye notes.
Consistently remind yourself that death is inevitable regardless, every moment is precious, and that you are fortunate in countless ways.
Most importantly, don't sit on your laurels; act, just do it, make dreams come true.

Remember, everyday is still an opportunity to make things happen, for regardless of the ominous warnings, these days modern medicine has made it possible that the chances are you are still liable to live longer than you even want to!

Monday, May 27, 2002:
Terrorism is perhaps merely a distant threat to my life. I can think of a dozen others which dare sit much closer to me, threats that people only heed when they are in the headlines: ebola, west nile, tuberculosis; and what happened to anthrax?

I see cars come this close (my thumb and index finger are almost touching) to hitting a pedestrian almost everyday.

In light of the recent "warnings" I have heard a few people say "I'm not planning to die."

You can't plan death.

You can hardly even be prepared for it, especially when it is determined by circumstances that are not under your control.

And what about cancer? Who plans to get that? Or not get it? My best friend's parents are both deceased from it; an ex-girlfriend of my father's who was only in her early forties died from it last year; my mother's best friend (from high-school) died of it in her thirties.

In this last Sunday's New York Times Magazine's lead article on nuclear threat ("How Scared Should We Be? 05.26.02) Frank Von Hoppel, a Princeton physicist states "Your probability of dying of cancer in your lifetime is about 20 percent." 20%!?! That means one out of every five people you know will likely die of cancer.

It is safe to say that people who are victims of crime, terrorism, and accidents had no premonition of their demise. They are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Only problem is you can't escape death if it has your name on its list. You can't choose to be in the right place at the right time—for if you "escape death" it just was not your turn.

Of course, there are those who court death, dancing with it while pursuing extreme activities, but most of the time they are aware of the risks and accept them as part of their fate, for others it is merely a matter of pure stupidity and cannot see that the incendiary and ephemeral pleasures of defying experience and wisdom, and maybe even common-sense, do not measure up to the small momentary thrill. But they are not the measure by which I speak of our daily experience and unforeseen death, perhaps the exception, but not the rule.

Some have said that if the experience of 9.11 and other current threats had not been looming over our heads that "my preparation" might be interpreted as suicidal.

Far from. I love life and would love to live a healthy, active and passionate life for 100 years. But I am not afraid of the inevitable and believe you should be prepared if you feel you have something to offer posthumously. And I believe I do.

So, that is why I am preparing now, even if my dear father just told me he will live to at least 100. And I know I have lived a healthier life than he, although perhaps not as passionate, which inherently might counter the initial premise. But as I responded to him, I relayed how I recently had went to the doctor for my allergies and asked him aside from his prognosis of me what his opinion was as an experienced physician about extending the life of ailing elderly. I asked that he tell me honestly off-the-record even if it was contrary to the Hippocratic Oath. He answered "When its time to go, its time. Extension of functionality is not living." I felt the same. Hemmingway, who lived the adventure of his novels, has long been a hero of mine for but one reason, he had the courage to take his own life with a rifle when he felt it was no longer worth living. I don't think I could ever be as brave.

So, as such, I do not want half my life to go wasted simply because I did not take a few hours to prepare passing it on. I know that little time it takes to preserve and share, might provide countless hours of enlightenment and entertainment to others, in turn enriching their lives and perhaps vicariously extending my own.

hinc illae lacrimae.
hence these tears.

~ terence, andria


All rights reserved, Lorenzo D. Dominguez, 2002-2005