The Next Right Thing?

By Artie Van Why (avanwhy@aol.com)

Today, as I was driving, my mind drifted to 9/11; as is often the case when I’m behind the wheel of my car.

It was a specific memory, with shades of gray as far as the preciseness of the memory. It took place about a week after 9/11 had occurred. I was at my general doctor, Dr. S., getting medication to help with the PTSD that I had already been diagnosed as having. I remember sitting in a chair as he half sat on the counter.

I told him I had a question I wanted to ask. It regarded an injured man, with a severe head injury, that I had stopped to help. I explained, in detail, the extent of the man’s injury and I asked my doctor if he thought the man could have survived, having sustained such a damaging wound. Dr. S. took a gentle pause and said: “No, probably not.” My memory is very clear of breaking down and sobbing because what I had feared had just been verified.

It’s odd; the specific moments that come to mind about the day of 9/11, and the weeks afterward, each day.

I’ve been considering getting back to writing; with the intent to expand my book, That Day in September. There are memories that have come back that I’d like to add. Memories of life in those first few months after that fateful morning.

And there is so much to write about regarding the years that have since followed; leaving New York, trying to learn how to rebuild my shattered life, sharing my story publicly whenever an opportunity allows. After That Day in September?

I was laid off from my job of 12 years the end of last August and in the months of unemployment that have followed, I’ve thought about what to do next with my life.

One pearl of wisdom from 12-step programs is “just do the next right thing.” And I’ve decided that, for me, the next right thing is to take early retirement. And, with all that free time, commit to tell the rest of my story of 9/11; adding these years that have come after. I just hope there will be a reading and listening, audience when all is written and done.

I have been trying, for the past few years, to find someone who could represent me as a Speaker; finding me those opportunities to continue telling my story in front of people. I want to believe that people still want to hear about the day that changed our lives and our country forever. Sometimes I wonder if the interest has waned.

The one promising hope is when I speak to students. From 7th graders up to college students. An audience of students is inspiring because they listen with such intensity and silence; hanging onto each word I speak. And the questions they have afterward are always so precise and intelligent; even among the 7th graders.

I’ve had those who have told me they would help me find someone who could work with me in pursuing to tell my story. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for the help promised.

I do have the promise that my story of 9/11 will be told abroad because a London play publishing house found me and I’ve signed a contract with them to represent and promote my play, That Day in September (adapted from my book), in the United Kingdom.

I’ll end with my wish list for my future:

1. Get clear cut confirmation that writing is my next right thing.

2. Find someone to book speaking engagements for me.

and

3. Meet a producer interested in the film rights for That Day in September.

If anyone reading this can help making any of this wish list a reality list, I’m not too proud to ask for your help.

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