Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering

I attempted to watch The Path to 9/11 on ABC last night. I made it through six minutes before I had to turn it off.

Too hard.

I'm not even going to try to write my own account of September 11, 2001. Equally difficult.

Instead, I'll share the reflection of September 11 that I remember the most vividly. John Mayer posted this to his website a few days after the event that changed us all.

As an 18-year-old college sophomore, it was what I needed to read.

As I watch what must be my 25th hour of television coverage of the terror attacks on our country, I can only feel that our own English language has failed us in our ability to convey how we're feeling. I wish there was an upper tier of vocabulary that, as young children, we were taught but taught never to speak, so that we could express ourselves at a time like this.

"Tragedy", "Lost", "Devastating", "Condolences", "Hearts go out" - They feel like throwing punches under water. They simply cannot make impact the way we want them to. Forgive the songwriter in me for wanting to try in my own way. This is not a holistic view of this tragedy, but only a few perspectives on this event that has exceeded even our collective ability to fathom.

We live in two worlds at once. The big world and the little world. I'm sorry to say that we've (myself included) been infinitely more interested and concerned about our own little worlds. OUR vehicles, OUR money, OUR personal portable bottled water supply, OUR communication devices. We are entirely self-governed people working within a larger framework that we've only really been exposed to while flipping through OUR satellite TV channels, looking for the perfect entertainment to satisfy us in our little world. That is absolutely not to be condemned. It's our simple human nature.

It is the pursuit of comfort, not happiness. I think we're all slowly waking up to the fact that comfort as we know it will never be the same. It's like being grounded times a thousand.

There is a relative bright side to this. We have actually unzipped the seam on our little worlds wide enough to climb out and make sure others are okay. Many of us are meeting each other for the first time, and in the process of looking behind us at the deflating bubbles we've stepped out of, we have become astounded at how small and suffocating they really were. The air outside, though filled with dust and debris, is in some ways, infinitely more fresh than any we've breathed in our little worlds. Today we are giving knowing glances to strangers we gave only the middle finger to while driving in our little worlds on wheels last week. Last week. A lifetime ago. Last week, when we thought it was okay to say "Fuck you, buddy!" to a stranger, as long as we said "buddy". That is the most beautiful irony I can think of. May our collective short attention spans never wind-sweep this sensitivity away!

I think I speak for the Excitebike generation when I say that I don't understand the mechanics of conflict. My brothers and I used to pour the entire plastic box of action figures on the floor in the middle of the living room. We took turns choosing a figure for each of our teams. We may have tried once to re-enact the good vs. evil fight as portrayed in the films or T.V. shows they were based on, but it only took us three good minutes to figure out that it's more fun to throw an action figure party in Castle Grayskull than it is to clash by the leg of the coffee table. Jabba shared bong hits to Han Solo more times than he ordered his capture. I know that my generation derived more pleasure out of making G.I. Joe look like he was taking a fierce dump than snuffing out the enemy. And I'm proud of that. I hope everyone in my generation, and beyond in both directions, is as well.

I may have felt confusion or guilt about this in the last few days, but I am equally proud and blessed to be an artist at this moment. I am able to inspire celebration in people. Sometimes the celebration of loneliness, sometimes the celebration of love, but invariably a celebration.

I will play as many shows in the coming weeks as possible. If I can fly, I will. If I need to drive, I will as well. (I have many cool things in my little world on wheels to make a cross country drive more like a cross country movie and music festival.) I will be there if it's humanly possible. Please know that if, in the coming days, shows are cancelled, that they were only done so because it was completely out of the realm of possibility. I will stand on every stage in every city that I possibly can, and we'll all celebrate together again. I love you all and will see you again very soon.

And always remember (as if we've ever forgotten)
We are Americans, and we are cooler.

Love aint corny,
John

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