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Randy Cassingham

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bullet  Looking Back at 9/11

So here it is, 9/11 -- the first time I've published a True newsletter on that date since the fateful events in 2001. "The" 9/11 was a Tuesday, so Premium had already gone out. That gave me a few days to get it together before I ran a free edition, and a couple of more days before I actually had to write again, which I do on Sundays -- that's why every column has a Sunday date on it. Kit (my "significant other") and I were Red Cross volunteers back then, and spent most of that week helping out at shelters taking care of hundreds of stranded travelers.

I was still publishing HeroicStories then, and got out a Special Issue before heading for the shelter. It's still on the HS site (and HS is still being published, even though I later "spun it off" to a new publisher -- I haven't had anything to do with HeroicStories since 1 February 2003).

By the next Sunday, September 16, I was ready to write. Something set me off more in some ways than the terrorism: Americans who were trying to capitalize on the suffering of others. My lead story, Casting the First Stone, about the "American Taliban", got me back in the mood. That story, my commentary, and quite a few reader letters, are archived on that page.

The evil we saw that day sparked some good introspection in me. On Monday, Sept. 17, I decided to ask Kit to marry me. And I didn't mean "someday", I meant "right now". We decided to take a breath or two first (and get some things in order), so we waited four long days: we tied the knot on Friday, Sept. 21.

Then we started making plans to get on with one of my long-term dreams: to live more quietly, in a rural area. We chose the area, then chose our spot, and started designing the house for the spot. By August 2003, we arrived in Ouray County, Colorado, and lived in a yurt on our new property while our new house was built. Rather than volunteer with the Red Cross, we now volunteer with the local EMS agency. I'm a former advanced life support medic and search-and-rescue sheriff's deputy, but I had let all of my medical certifications lapse more than 20 years before. To get back into it, last year I started over from scratch, starting at a new level of cert ("First Responder"). Kit was intrigued by what I was doing, so she took the next class and joined the team. And this Fall we'll both upgrade, to the "B" level of Emergency Medical Tech.

Meanwhile, we're working on increasing our self-sufficiency (I'll talk more about that later). The point is, we all can choose whether to panic and freak out over terrorism, or we can use it as a wake-up call to reevaluate where we are and where we're going. Our governmental institutions are a mixed bunch on that question, both working toward better preparedness but also forcing little old ladies to remove their shoes for x-raying before getting on a plane. (My mother [no, my dear, I'm not imylying you're a little old lady] is visiting this week; airport security screeners not only took away her 5-oz bottle of water, but would not let her take a quick drink first, since she was thirsty and knew it was a long way to the gate. Yeah: like that increases anyone's security? Sheesh. I've ranted enough about that already -- and it's gotten worse since then!)

But I'm not going to let that silliness affect what I do. I'm not going to stop publishing thought-provoking (and hopefully entertaining) content. I'm not going to curl up in fear. My reactions instead are positive: showing my commitment to my partner. Stretching to realize my dream home rather than just continue to say "someday". Simplifying my life while still giving of the most precious thing I have to my neighbors when they're in need: my time.

You may simply choose to "carry on,"to refuse to succumb to fear. And that's a great thing. I just hope you've actually taken the time to think about your reaction, since terrorism won't stop, especially when it's effective at provoking governments to overreact. I found a way to keep -- and even improve -- the balance in my life, to actually get benefit from being shook up a bit. My view is toward the future, not fretting about the past. Here's to hoping you also figured out how to turn evil into good.


1 Comments on This Entry

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Posted by Tom at Tucson, AZ on July 21, 2008:

The last time I flew, I had a half liter bottle of water with me. I drank half of it while waiting in line to go through the "security" check point.

When it was my turn to go through, I still had about 4 to 5 ounces to drink, but since I was not thirsty anymore, I reluctantly gave it to the agent at the check point.

My point here is that I had a brief thought about just pouring the water on the floor - to make a point with the stupidity of making people throw away bottles of water that hold more than 3 ounces. But, since my wife was with me, I didn't pour it out. Subconsciously, I thought, I'd miss my flight because the agent would have taken that act as a terrorist threat. Yea, right!

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