I'm sure everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. Merril and I were on a camping trip in Sequoia National Park in California. I remember waking up and hearing the noise level in the campground rise as the news spread from tent to tent. I remember leaning into the window of a park service vehicle and listening to the news on the radio set. I remember seeing the rangers with semi-automatic rifles at the entrance station as we left, and I remember seeing the first footage of the attack in a McDonalds somewhere in the Central Valley. Most memories of that day are surprisingly hazy, but I do remember the night before with crystal clarity.
We hiked up to the top of Moro Rock after dinner. If you have never been there, you really should some day. Summers on the Rock can be packed but after Labor Day, the crowds thin out and the trek up the stairs and across the granite can be downright relaxing. Throw in the scent of baking pine needles, the cool early autumn breezes off the high country, rocks radiating the heat of the daytime sun, and the short hike can be the perfect evening experience. We watched the sunset over the foothills and I ran enough rolls of film through the camera to be able to justify deducting the trip as a business expense (it really was a personal getaway for the two of us). The sunset was mediocre but it did light the granite walls across the canyon with enough color to create a few nice frames. More importantly, we held hands and watched the sun set on our little corner of the planet. We walked back to the car, drove back to the campsite, and ducked into the tent with no idea what would happen over the next morning, days, weeks, and years.
For some, their world truly changed the next morning. Many families lost loved ones, and over the next decade, many families endured hardships as loved ones fought battles overseas. My thoughts and prayers will always be with them. For most of us though, our world didn't change much that morning. We suffered minor inconveniences but in reality, only our perceptions of the world changed. It suddenly seemed a much more tumultuous and dangerous place.
The next decade seemed decidedly less smooth than the previous one. In reality, the economy had started to fall apart before 9/11. The tech bubble had popped earlier in the year and we were already sliding into a recession, but the attacks seemed to put the nail in the coffin. The easy life of the previous decade was over. During the next years, we fought multiple wars and endured seemingly endless economic and political crises. We also had successes. We developed new technologies and made major advances in science. We learned and we adapted.
After the last decade, anyone who tells you what will happen during the next ten years is a fool. Maybe we will triumph over all our differences, maybe we will be in for another decade of bubbles and bursts, or maybe our modern savior of technology will solve every problem known to mankind (sarcasm intended). As I look at this photo, I gain strength knowing one thing. No matter what happens, the earth will spin, economies will surge and sputter, people will live their lives, and the sun will still shine the last light of day on the granite walls of the Sierra Nevada. You just have to be willing to see it.