glimpses of heaven

mr. and mrs. macedonia, cancun, november of 1999

With the one-year anniversary of September 11th right around the corner, everyday conversations have become more solemn and reflective. A friend’s voice over the telephone lines paraphrases a point a preacher recently brought up: “everyone talks about the tragedies of September 11th…who thanks GOD that there was a September 12th, 13th, and 14th?” I hold fast to the belief that few (if any) talk about September 12th because most want to get back to September 10th. The 10th represents “back to normal,” but the whole concept of “normal” doesn’t mean what it used to, which makes the 10th even more elusive, almost mystic. That day has taken on a romantic, nostalgic quality. I contend that America has done all it can to get back to September 10th…even if it meant suffering from convenient amnesia along the way.

In the month that followed September 11th, everyday brought astonishing acts of kindness alongside the rampant verbal assaults and paranoia. For every unkind word against Arabs and Afghanistan, there were stories of healing, sharing, and consoling. I kept wondering how would America get back to normal without forgetting the lessons in compassion learned after that tragic day. Quite frankly, we wouldn’t. All that mattered was a return to normalcy, no matter how far-fetched that concept seemed, no matter whom you had to push out of the way during rush hour. While it's a good thing to be able to move on, I can't help thinking that it feels like the scab over the wound. Either we're really focused or our attention span is frighteningly short.

That month-long outpouring of love was nothing short of a miracle and miracles weren’t meant to be eternal. Miracles come and go. In light of that understanding, I started to focus on finding the good within bad situations. One week after September 11th, Beth and I will celebrate our 3rd year anniversary. And not only three years of marriage, but also ten years of being together. We’ve been wearing silly grins for the past month just thinking about it. Beyond that, I’ve had some amazing experiences partying with friends. The vibe’s been so thick that it felt like family, nothing but smiles as heads nod, fists pump, and kids dance and make connections with each other. On occasion, this vibe has even been achieved with perfect strangers, our hands in the air, dancing unashamed. Whether I’m catching up with friends I haven’t seen in months, sharing laughs with family members, or just sitting around at home listening to music, I’ve been savoring these moments of joy for all they’re worth. I figure it’s either that or let all of my concerns get the best of me.

And the concerns have been piling up as of late. For one thing, way too many of my friends are out of work. The collapse of one business after another does nothing to help the multitude in the same boat. Seems like every other day brings a news story about another abducted child. President Bush seems hellbent on going to war with Iraq. And whatever allies the United States once had now appear to be backing away in disgust whenever we're brought up in conversation.

I hereby initiate...PROJECT HAPPY.

Our mission: Search for happy, find the happy, catch the happy, secure the happy, and only let happy out to share with like-minded others for collective uplifting purposes. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Perhaps I need to take on the attitude of a consultant that recently left my job. A sweet woman who got married a few months ago, she is due with a baby girl in January. She is also originally from Israel and is moving back there with her husband. When asked if she harbors any fears about moving back to such a volatile area, she responded (in her typically upbeat manner):

"It's a beautiful place when it's not being bombed."

I'm sure there's a response for that, but for the life of me I couldn't come up with one. All I could think to say was, "I'm really gonna miss you."

Surely someone out there would confuse my optimism for insanity. But what are my options? Sit around and mope? Take on a spirit of defeat? Join the growing ranks of the "God Can't Do Jack" society? That's not me. I have my moments, but that's not who I am. So I deal with the day as best I can and prepare for the next. Keep my headphones on, remember to laugh, kiss my wife, and focus on the good, how matter how seemingly insignificant.

The mere fact that I take so much for granted lets me know that life is good. Waking up in the morning is a glimpse of heaven. Blue skies are a glimpse of heaven. Sunshine on my face is a glimpse of heaven. Beats that move me to tears...i'll let you finish it. You don't have to agree with me - just think about it. Keep your head up, stay positive, and pray that September 11, 2002 isn't too much of a media circus. If you need me, you know where to find me.

{jason randall smith}

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