September 11th

Hi. It’s been awhile and while there is a Summer of catch-up (spoiler alert: not much happened, #COVID) today is 9/11 and not a day to reflect on frivolity. Instead, I’m more interested in a quick flashback and some thoughts which, while not monumental, are mine and I’d like to write them down.

On 9/11/01, I was a senior at Williams College, a prestigious liberal arts school that I was doing well at, although certainly not a shining star. Looking back, I realize that I missed out on the potential that it offered in terms of a potential consulting or Wall Street career, or even an early Silicon Valley entry. But no matter- I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was 10 years old and I’m so happy with my career. It’s just amazing to me to see me how many other options could have been explored.

So, on 9/11, I was on my way to my senior biology seminar, “Circadian Rhythms and Biological Clocks” (or something to that effect). Even that subject has grown in leaps and bounds since I studied it in 2001. It really is amazing, even though I’ve only kept up with the field peripherally. The seminar was 9-11 a.m. and I was cutting through the student union around 8:45. A news report was on showing smoke coming from one of the Twin Towers. My first thought was confusion- I didn’t think it was the anniversary of the bombing in the ’90s because that had been a Winter day with flurries. What I saw on the screen was a gorgeous cloudless day just like the one that I saw outside in Williamstown, MA. Within a minute, I realized that it was real-time. Even still, the exact situation was unknown and what was known was that I had to get to class. An absence was non-excusable, apart from very limited circumstances.

The professor, whom I don’t remember although I can look it up, called the class to order, specifically saying to focus on matters at hand rather than developing news story. The next week, he briefly but deeply apologized, saying that he had no idea what had actually been happening. In the course of a 90 minutes seminar, the South Tower was hit and both towers collapsed. The world incontrovertibly changed while we were ensconced in a small academic bubble studying the current science in a field that has progressed in leaps and bounds during the following 19 years.

Since then, I’ve finished my career at Williams, followed by a medical career in the U.S. Navy since June, 2002. So much has changed within our country, our culture, our military, and our health care system. While there are deep, and even deepening, political divisions, I draw solace from the fact that overall, I feel we are learning from our circumstances and trying to effect change. I hope we are successful.

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