1. Heal

Searching for Purpose After the Unthinkable

On the third Tuesday of my first semester of college, I woke up at 7:20 am Central time.

I showered, grabbed my backpack, and walked to an introductory poetry class.

The class went from 8:00 until 9:25.

Ten minutes after that I was back in my dorm room, back in bed.

I was slowly learning that 8 am classes were not for me.

Around 9:50 my roommate Matt asked if he could turn on the TV.

I had only known Matt for about three weeks and he had seemed considerate enough.

But it seemed like a dick move to come into our room, see that I’m sleeping and still want to turn on the TV.

I mean, it’s not even 10.

The Price Is Right wouldn’t even be on yet.


But I didn’t want to seem like a dick myself, so I said sure and rolled over.

He turned on CNN.

Both towers had already collapsed.

The networks were playing replay footage over and over.

Of the South Tower being hit.

And both towers collapsing.

The whole world had changed while I was snoozing.

I didn’t know how to deal with it.

I wanted to feel something.

Everyone instantly knew this was a huge event.


Along the lines of the stories, our parents had told us about where they were when we landed on the moon or Kennedy was shot.

We knew this was big.

But I felt disconnected.

It seemed far away.

I didn’t know anyone personally affected by it.

I wanted to at least acknowledge, if not mourn, the tragedy.

So the next day I gathered all the different newspapers I could find.

They all were covering the attacks in-depth, with various headlines and lots of pictures.

And I took them and used them as wallpaper.

I covered completely the bookcase next to my bed.


When I decided to do this, I didn’t have an answer to the obvious question.

The truth is I didn’t know why.

It was something I did, not based on logic or reason, not a conscious emotional response, just something I did.

An unconscious action in uncertain times.

But no one ever asked.

Tons of people saw it.

No one ever questioned it, at least to my face.

I suppose everyone had their own way of dealing with it.

Or maybe they just thought I was a freak.

Among all the different stories and images, there was one picture that touched me the most.


It captured a person who had jumped from a hundred stories up.

I put this in the most prominent spot, next to my pillow.

Every night I would see this man before I went to bed and think about what it must have been like.

To be in a situation where jumping to your certain death is the preferred choice.

One day in the spring, perhaps six months after the attacks.

I took down the wallpaper.

The bare wood seemed clean and raw.

The newspapers had served their purpose.

Whatever it was.

Dave Fymbo a top writer in Sports. Columnist, Editor at 40 Fathoms, serving up Humor, Politics, Sports, and some Fiction.

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