What I learned

Today I head home. It’s 3:55 am and I’m waiting for the TSA line to open up at the Bangor International Airport in Maine. Today’s date isn’t lost on me. I’ll be mid-flight between Chicago and Fargo on the 20 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and if I’m being honest, the event hadn’t made much of an impact on me until recent years.

Sure, we “watched the events unfold on live television” as children. I was 11. But does an 11 year old know the magnitude of what was going on? No. Did the adults we were surrounded by? Eh, the jury is still out. For years, I was frustrated at how dramatized people reacted around the anniversary as if everyone was personally effected. Maybe they were, but I doubt it. Or maybe I was raised in a home that didn’t make something out of nothing. Though, I know it wasn’t nothing, obviously. But I wasn’t in an environment where it impacted my life at all.

I guess, it just reminded me year after year of people’s inauthenticity and the more popular social media became, the more over the top people were about it. Kind of like the death of a 3rd cousin twice removed or high school classmate you hadn’t seen in 25 years but decide to blast a memoriam all over Facebook for. We all know that the loss really didn’t impact your world whatsoever so why make a stink about it? That’s right, attention. Or to fit in.

Uff. I really didn’t mean to wake up and choose asshole for a mood. I swear I’ll turn it around here..

Anyway, present day, I do think there are plenty of genuinely good-spirited, thoughtful 9/11 posts and memorial events year after year. The messaging has improved in the last few years, I think that’s why my avertness towards the day has switched gears or maybe I’ve matured.

I’ve focused my attention on learning about those that were personally impacted, the families of loved ones lost, the stories from that day, and the tremendous courage by emergency personal and civilians alike. Maybe that’s what everyone saw all along and I was too young or naive to recognize it. But I do now.

I feel grateful now more than ever at the sacrifices people of all professions have made to make our lives as easy and as (mostly) free as they can be. I recognize that I really have no idea what that actually entails on a daily basis but I know it’s significant to the infrastructure and success of our country, even if we are currently at war with ourselves societally.

Each year, I end up meeting more people who either serve or have served in some sort of way (military or otherwise) and it’s really something special to hear about the pride and honor they hold for what they do for their families and communities. It’s easy to overlook but I hope that in each person I meet, I gain a bit more humility in knowing just how impactful one life can be to another. I want to genuinely learn from people, not just post some sort of tribute on my FB wall so everyone knows we “didn’t forget” and I’d encourage others to do the same. When is the last time any of us really paused and visited with someone we didn’t know, learned their story? Bet it’s been a minute.

Alright, there’s no smooth segue here so moving on.. typically, I write a long sappy post about all the things I’d learned from the traveling I’d done. Considering this is already much longer than I planned and my posts this time around were much more “in my feels” than usual, I decided to bullet point it out for the sanity of myself and others:

  • Cathedrals, basicllas, tiny country chapels, and village churches with towering steeples are my favorite types of art.
  • Tolls seem dumb, what’s the purpose?
  • Many grown adults who should know better still have an issue with and make fun of people in bigger bodies.
  • Laughter is contagious.
  • I think this was my last solo trip, at least for awhile. This one specifically highlighted how lonely it actually is to travel alone.
  • Waterfalls are my love language.
  • The way COVID-19 protocols are depicted on the news in comparison to how it’s managed in real life is vastly different.
  • A quiet mind isn’t always a peaceful one.
  • I’m a creature of habit and thrive when in a routine. This has become more apparent now than ever before.
  • Sometimes detours are blessings in disguise.
  • The tiny circle of people I surround myself with are my most treasured experiences in life.

Welp, there ya have it. Another one for the books. Thank you to anyone that actually read this series in its entirety, it really was a trip. Where I’m at in life is much different this time around than the last time I wrote while traveling but I think it’s for the better. I’m more open and honest with myself and how I’m feeling now, rather than suppressing or hiding it. That may have seeped through in the form of pessimism in some of my writing this time around but I hope the light I feel still found it’s way to shine though. Life is weird sometimes but God is always so good.

Until next time! Maybe.

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