Apr. 16th, 2013

gwynhefar: (fire and ice)
It’s a common scene in fiction. The hero wakes up and for one peaceful moment everything is fine. And then comes the moment of realisation. Yes, that really happened.
Yes, your wife really was murdered yesterday.
Yes, you really are on the run from a secret government agency.
Yes, aliens really did take over the planet.

It works because it’s true. Because that’s the way it happens for most of us. And by ‘us’ I mean ‘typical’ Western society. That fortunate subsection of the world’s population for whom waking up safe, and healthy, and comfortable is a regular occurrence. If we’re lucky, the only realisation we have to deal with is yes, it is a work day. Or that much rarer blissful realisation that no, you have to get up any time soon.

Of course, even our lives aren’t perfect. Sometimes we wake up and when reality reasserts itself it comes with a harsh reminder.
Yes, you really were fired yesterday.
Yes, you really are single again.
Yes, the doctor really did say cancer.
No, she’s really not coming back.
These are the personal tragedies.

And then sometimes reality shifts on a wider scale. Everyone knows the big one. On September 12, 2001, the whole world woke up and the reality that reasserted itself included acts of depravity and acts of heroism most of us in this sheltered country could never have imagined.

And I remember waking up in a dark, sweltering apartment on an August morning and thinking “oh yeah, hurricane,” as if that word could ever have prepared me for the hours I spent filling out simple forms online: ‘first name,’ ‘last name,’ ‘gender,’ ‘age,’ ‘last known location . . . .’ Or the faces of the people who came up to my desk with desperate questions - “What have you heard about my neighbourhood?” “They’re still looking, right?” “Surely there’s another number I can call . . .”

I wasn’t downtown yesterday. I was safe on the other side of the Boston Harbor. All of my friends and family are accounted for. But I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and when reality reasserted itself, there had been a terror attack in my city.

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gwynhefar

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