Rose in the sunset at 9/11 Memorial
Photo: Wikimedia

VIOLENT TRANQUILITY

Reflections on the 9/11 Memorial Pools

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It’s so calm here.

The sound of the waterfalls allows you to drift off into silent nothingness and into deep thought,
all at the same time.  The water falls so fast and so continuously that
you don’t even realize how much is falling.  

You switch between focusing on the violent crash of water into the pool, and the serene nature
of the pool itself, realizing that such a solemn memorial could only exist because of
the wars, the violence, and the death that preceded it.  

The humanity and the countless lives lost within the blink of an eye, yet without the bat of an eyelash.
The collateral damage of war–the opportunity cost–is always hard to fathom,
even if you could calculate it numerically.

But then we start focusing on one large number without accounting for the components.
Just like the pools circulate 52,000 gallons of water per minute; but no one’s counting the drops as they fall.

As the water crashes to the bottom, its power dissipates into a tranquility
where you can almost hear it whisper,
“So quickly and suddenly was everything taken from me but
I have nothing to fear anymore. The burden of this rests with you.”

Peacefully, it crawls towards the dark recess of what seems like a resting place:
an abyss of eternity that either does, or does not, persist in our memories.  

And yet, there’s no peaceful end. The motors of the world keep a constant pressure,
nudging it, driving it to repeat the violent plunge.

The infinite nature of this pool reminds us that despite the reflection we may experience
as we watch the water slowly creep and fall into darkness,
we do nothing to prevent it from happening again, and again, and again.  

That is the nature of war and conflict. No amount of understanding, reflection,
or erected memorials have the power to prevent its recurrence.  

We can be both perpetrators and victims in the same breath,
just like the violence of a waterfall and the serenity of a pool can both include the same drop.

This Memorial, of course, makes me ponder what happened on that dreadful day.
It serves as a reminder of not only those that died here, but also those that lost their lives
and their humanity building up to this act of terror, and those that lost their lives
and their humanity as a result of it at home and abroad ever since.  

A Memorial to the innocent drops that continue to fall
around the world for reasons unknown or obscured.
A Memorial expressing regret for the actions committed.
A Memorial begging forgiveness for those to come. 

We’re all just a little guilty of blinking, reflecting, forgetting, and blinking again.

(C) Magna Gopal, 2014

 

Violent Tranquility by Magna Gopal
Violent Tranquility by Magna Gopal