your pal, erin

Author & Psychic Superhero

Look No Further

The surest way to save your life when you’re headed straight for a brick wall is to look away. It’s a known fact, as told by of the most hardened cynics I know; an invaluable lesson that he procured in racing school.

 As it turns out, a vehicle’s trajectory follows the driver’s sightline, not the direction of its steering wheel. Most professional racecar drivers are at a loss to explain the quantum physics behind this phenomenon. They just know that it works.

Looking away from a proverbial wreck is easier said than done, especially in these cataclysmic times. As a firsthand witness to the events of 9/11, I assure you, it’s impossible to avert one’s eyes from a tragedy.

While most of America had their heads wrapped around their TV sets, trying to make sense of everything, I had both the blessing and the curse being able to walk down the street to see it for myself.

The closest I ever got was the corner of 14th Street and 8th Avenue, but at least it was reachable by subway and outside the 24 hour news cycle zone.

Stepping above ground and into a nearby park, there were no talking heads, no angry polemics…not even the sound of sirens.

Just the stillest, most silent vacuum I have ever felt.

In the distance stood the pile of detritus that once was The World Trade Center, now just seven stories tall; a number I calculated by measuring its height against a nearby apartment building.

Shell shocked and mesmerized, I was consumed by a single thought:  “There are people in there.”

Seven stories of rubble, with a base as wide as the horizon, spilt into every nook and cranny of the skyline. It was impossible to look away.

“There are people in there.”

The air reeked of melted computer keyboards with bitter undertones often described as acrid —a word that’s both generic and cliché. To this day, I am too traumatized to recall a more accurate adjective. Scent, after all, is the most potent memory trigger.

“There are people in there.”

Even though the flames had been contained, the wreckage continued to smolder. Every so often a fireball would erupt from the belly of the pyre, accompanied by a sound similar to the echoing roar of the dreaded dragon on the 1980’s game show Tic Tac Dough.

“There are people in there.”

It was a thought too painful to bear. I had to look away.

In the distance I could see a group of fuzzy bumblebees hovering above a patch of honeysuckle. They didn’t stop pollinating the flowers to join me in my outrage. They continued contributing to the circle of life.

Looking away for just that split-second, listening to the bees’ faint, soothing buzz, helped me bring peace to a street fight that broke out later that day. My neighbors, two teenage girls who had been best friends, had come to blows after one accused the other of stealing her cigarettes; a fight so intense, it took two enormous guys to pull them apart.

Looking away from the seven stories of rubble gave me the perspective to see their situation for what it was — two people who suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome who loved each other.

“There are people in there.”

Had I not looked away from the rubble, I might have dismissed the group as hopeless street thugs, unworthy of my contempt. Instead, I hugged them and told them they were having a human reaction to a fucked up situation.

I’d like to think by looking away, I helped to make the world a better place, if only in microscopic increments.

Reading the social media reactions to the shooting in Orlando, I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite spiritual teachers:

“ONE who is in the Vortex is more powerful than millions who are not.”      


If you’re a regular reader Ghost Dog Diaries reader and something I’ve written has ever spoken to you —changed your heart, your mind, or helped you to consider another point of view — then ask yourself how things would be different if I had chosen to remain angry with millions of others, rather than to embrace my power of one by looking away.

I say that not from a place of arrogance, but from my sincerest wish to be of service to others. Looking away might not be the easiest or most intuitive reaction to recent tragic events, but in light of my own experience with tragedy, it’s is most compelling answer I’ve got.


Originally published in Connect Savannah