The Ability to Bounce Back
On a recent trip to Los Angeles, as I was driving across
Laurel Canyon to a breakfast meeting at Art's Deli, I was
thinking about how glad everyone was that 2002 had arrived;it
heralded a fresh start for all of us, an opportunity to set
a catastrophic year behind us.
Yet as I listened to the news this morning, January 9th,
stream of information coming from my radio mostly had to do
September 11th, the event we are so eager to put behind us.
stories are the offshoots of the reactions to that day's events.
was an interview with an Afghani official, an interview with
who was just back from Kabul, an update on security measures
and a story
about a fired and disgruntled employee of San Onofre's nuclear
just happened to have 150 guns in his house and storage shed
as well as
thousands of rounds of ammo.
We are, naturally, much more sensitive about people who are
disgruntled employees of nuclear power plants today than we
The theme people seem to want is that we are getting back
to normal and
we are but, as I have said before, this is a new normal. I
adjusted to seeing soldiers in the airport. I am resigned
to having to
do things like take my shoes off, if necessary, so they can
I no longer can plan on just making it to planes and give
least two hours from arrival at the airport to get to my plane.
These are the new standards by which we live.
On Sunday night, having just flown in from New York, I went
to dinner at
the Napa Valley Bistro in Westwood with an old, dear friend
who, in the
middle of dinner, grabbed my hand and told me how brave I
You fly! You have flown, more than once and not because there
She can't, not yet.
I had a meeting while in Los Angeles with a development executive
said: I haven't. I know I should. I need to. I don't want
guess I'll have to. Next week. Or the week after. Soon.
We are still afraid and we are integrating into our lives
fear will be part of our lives for quite some time if not
for the rest
of our lives.
One report this morning reminded us that the Al Qaeda usually
twelve to eighteen months between strikes - so we have a wait
of us. It's not going away and, as one person pointed out
this week, it
probably won't be a commercial jetliner. They've done planes,
In the midst of this, we have to get back to living, doing
making a living for god's sake! Networks still need to be
and slots filled. The markets will continue to trade and Argentina
have to deal with its fiscal mess.
But at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, F-16's will be
at the ready
and troops will patrol the streets. Utah may become a no-fly
this makes me sad. I understand; I accept; I am saddened.
In the middle of one meeting in Los Angeles, a television
exec for whom
I had produced a program a few years ago told me that he was
how resilient the American people were.
His take was that all of us are moving into denial, a fierce
a future that we are determined to believe will be emotionally,
financially, psychologically the way we were on Labor Day,
I agree, we are remarkably resilient but I don't for a minute
that people are throwing up the wall of denial. The Trojan
been let through that wall, Troy has burned and we're rebuilding.
However, we are remarkably resilient. Not just us as Americans
as a race, a species. We live in hope. With one rather tattered
Soviet Union jet, the Afghan National Airline is starting
to fly again.
The Afghani government has started to encourage tourism.
Personally, I think that is taking optimism to a bit of an
why not? Sometime we will go there and take our tours of the
Tora Bora and walk through the ruins of Mullah Omar's house.
nature as human beings, to want to physically connect with
the source of
Ground Zero now has a viewing platform. There are those who
outraged, who feel some sin is being committed by those who
want to go
but for the most part I am humbled by the motives of those
encountered who want to make the journey downtown. They want
because the act of going is an act of respect, of honor, of
paying tribute in some small way to the dead and to those
Not all, but most, of the people who go are driven by their
desire for a
moment to give respect.
It is that act of going to give respect at Ground Zero, the
Americans might one day come to Afghanistan as tourists, that
struggle to reopen their airport and to restart their airline
- all of
this speaks to what we have learned in the last months. We'll
going and we will do our best with the events that are given
It is the resilience of the human being that is one of our
qualities. It is something that is amazing. Resilience.