Friday, September 11, 2015


"Happy Friday" doesn't cut it today.

  It's been 14 years since the shadow arrived.  The elderly, paranoid neighbor called that sunny morning.  "You'd better turn on the TV, something's happening."  We hauled it out of the closet on the TV cart, put away as it usually was in my unique upbringing.  I saw the second plane hit. The elderly neighbor's paranoia couldn't stop this.  This means war.  I felt sick.  That night I crept out into the back yard with the telescope.  There were no planes in the suburban DC sky.  Humanity was grounded once again, looking up, dizzy.  Coinciding neatly with the destruction was the divorce of my parents, and September 11th seemed to mark the beginning of the Shadow.
  Today I pad around my house quietly, pouring tea and working on tour ideas.  The breeze carries the sound of crickets and a Chopin record spins on the turntable.

  I think about the Shadow.  About my friends, returned from a war that wasn't known before this day in 2001, their faces changed with the sacrifice that the Shadow demands.  There was my buddy, a young kid who used to run lights at the punk club.  I saw him the other week, barely recognizing him.  He was all grown up, and home from the army.  "I'm glad you didn't get shot or anything" I said.

 "I did.  Three times."

   There's guitar students who don't remember a time when the twin towers stood, and other guys sitting in the chair in my studio who would rather not speak about their time overseas.  "Let me know if you want help putting it in a song" I say.

  I've only been on the fringes of the Shadow, never having to walk through a NYC street or valley in Afghanistan, both choked with a dust symbolically bound.  I can feel it, though, and it's paralleled my coming of age and own struggles, while magnitudes lesser, still painful in their own way.  It's not my intention to compare war and loss to personal tribulations, as I feel that not only disrespectful, but inaccurate.

   I watch the trees sway and hear trucks rumbling on the highway.  The small businessman who owns his trash truck stops at the curb as I write this. Life goes on.  I've been reading Machiavelli's The Prince and planning The Kindness Exchange tour.  It's an odd combination.   On this anniversary, two thoughts strike me:

  Actions are both ineffective and indelible.  The attackers failed to break a people, and yet, that shadow is forever.  One must remember this in one's own actions.  What we do is ultimately futile, yet everything...everything leaves a mark.  I had a dream last night that I was rude to a beggar, and then tossed him a penny in a power play.  I told my mother with tears in my eyes "and he stooped for it - I know how he feels ."  I chased after him, hoping to give him a dollar, having a change of heart.  He ran away, thinking I would hurt him.  He never came back.

 The Shadow takes much from us, yet shows us more than any light.  For those of us still here to gaze at the sunlight filtering through drying leaves 14 years later, I think it's worth pondering.  We not only see how dark the night can get, but we live to see the day.  The dawn may be cloudy, but it's there, and so are we.

How have we changed?  What are we made up?  What's important?  What will we do with our time?

- Josh


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