I'm honestly having a hard time focusing on writing about games today. In case you haven't heard, a team of United States special operators has found and executed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and the mastermind behind the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City, damaged the Pentagon and took the lives of more than 2,000 innocent American civilians. Then internet, as is its custom, is abuzz with pithy witticisms about this event, and I've been enjoying them right along with everyone else, but this event transcends internet wit for me. This one, for lack of a better explanation, means something to me. I feel it deep in my heart as an exultation of a kind I haven't felt in ... well, about a decade. Give or take.
It's a human tradition to memorize the details of our mundane lives when exposed to extraordinary news or events, and I'm not immune to this trend. When I heard the news that Bin Laden was dead, I was sitting at my desk at home, checking over email and other messages prior to settling in with a book and going to sleep. I was alone, tired, but thrilled. I felt the ease of a long burden slipping from my mind and afterward, slept soundly and peacefully.
It's a fitting contrast, I suppose, to where I found myself upon hearing the news that started this epic chapter in the lives of all free men. On September 11, 2001, I was sitting at another desk, in another home on another of America's coasts. I was sipping coffee and beginning my morning ritual of browsing news stories that I would later use in writing a script for my TV show. The internet wasn't working that day, and as I switched on the television to see if there might be a reason why, the first image I saw was a replay of the collision of a jetliner with one of the iconic towers of the World Trade center. Then, as I watched, dumbfounded, another plane struck.
Shortly afterward, the towers began to fall and as I watched live footage of the staggering collapse of America's most iconic building, my perception of the world fell with it, down into a deep, dark hole. Past the sight and sound of a sky free of airplanes. Past the candle-light vigils. Past the days on end spent obsessively watching news in order to make some sense of this tragedy. Past the appearance of soldiers armed with automatic weapons in America's airports. Past the creation of an agency that, in practice, exerts more terror on the daily lives of Americans than Bin Laden ever could. Past the re-election of one of the most controversial presidents in our history. Past two wars fought seemingly without end. Past a world economic collapse. Past my own personal collapses of various kinds, and the rebuilding that has, for me, consumed the better part of a decade.
Nearly 10 years ago the nation, the world and I were awakened with a start, by the arrival of a new kind of enemy that ignores borders, wears no uniforms and makes no distinction between civilians and anyone else. The impact of this awakening has impacted all of us, everywhere, in ways we are still trying to understand.
On that morning in 2001, I felt the impact of the shattering of our innocence as the premonition of a far-off hurt, as if in sympathy with the images of men and women falling hundreds of feet to their deaths on the streets of New York. Last night, however, I felt exultant. I know this is not the end of the long, dark night cast upon us all by terror's long shadow. I know the fighting all over the world will continue. I know that our government's near-treasonous overreaction to the threats will not immediately cease. But last night, for the first night in a decade, I felt as if we had finally stopped falling. Now it's time to start picking ourselves back up.