Me in 2001 (age 25)

20 years ago… I was a recent college graduate who was working as a pedicab driver in Austin, Texas, while taking a graduate journalism class at Texas State University in San Marcos (trying to figure out what I wanted to do next in my life).

On the morning of September 11, 2001, my dad called me on the phone and told me to turn on the TV. The next few hours were spent in shock, but after that I rode my bike to campus (because in those old days, I didn’t have internet access at home) and wrote an op-ed for the campus newspaper that called on our nation to not fall into reflexive vengeance and war.

The next few months were difficult. Financially, my income plummeted (because folks didn’t want to go to the bars at night in Austin during the weeks and months after 9-11, and hence I couldn’t get enough pedicab riders to make ends meet), but I also realized that my spiritual path wasn’t right for me (a realization that would take several more years to really become fleshed out and something I would take action upon).

And most of all I was convinced that I wanted to pursue a life of activism (because I saw no point in anything else), which resulted in me applying to law schools with plans to start in the fall of 2002. And then… a lot happened after that, both in law school and after.

My minor life disruptions of that time now seem trivial in the light of what others were dealing with at the time (especially those in the military and those who would enlist and be deployed after 9-11), but I still can’t help but wonder “what if.”

What if our nation wasn’t attacked?

What if our nation hadn’t gone to war, not only in Afghanistan but shortly thereafter against Iraq?

How would our world look different and how would my life look different?

We will never know.