Marking the passing of time by registering certain dates seems remarkably futile – after all, why should a one year anniversary hold any more meaning than a one year and one day anniversary?
And yet. As I stood on West Street in downtown Manhattan this weekend it occurred to me that – 20 years to the day – I also stopped on the same street, perhaps even at the same spot, to take a photograph of the Twin Towers.
Back then I could barely visualize 20 days into the future, let alone 20 years. Staring up at One World Trade Center, I wondered where they went.
What of the hundreds of people I’d known, or worked with, or briefly encountered during those years? Or the smells and sights of the places I’d been? Or the high highs and low lows of those intervening decades. How many of them could I recall? Were they already disappearing? Twenty years hence, would I even recall the day I first stood on West Street?
In other words, what is the point of marking the passing of time? Shouldn’t I take a hint from this most famous of forward-facing cities, and focus on the future, leaving the past to the past?
And yet, and yet – I still found myself standing on West Street, looking at the impossible skyward glass, absorbing its curious mix of hope and fear.