Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: Subconscious procrastination |

Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: Subconscious procrastination

It’s funny, or perhaps I should say interesting, how a national tragedy like 9/11 can mess with your mind.

During a normal week, with normal being one without anything I would consider extreme either direction, I wake up Sunday morning with a column 95 percent complete, with only a few tweaks remaining here and there to express something a little better (or to confuse an issue, depending upon my intent).

A Sunday night deadline leaves me with little choice.

Yet this past week I could not make up my mind on a subject, and I hereforth blame it all on 9/11.

My problem is certainly not a dearth of ideas, for there’s Dick Cheney’s revisionist history book, the post office going bankrupt, Obama’s jobs speech, the GOP’s “Science is for sissies” nonsense, homes back east deeper underwater than their mortgages, the latest Eagle River Station debate, our school district asking for more money, etc.

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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

The list is, quite literally, endless, yet as hard as I tried – even writing about it last week – I still could not get 9/11 off my mind.

So there I sat, early Sunday morning, determined to pick a subject and let ‘er rip, when I made the apparently subconscious decision to turn on the boob tube instead.

Big mistake.

GMA (Good Morning America) had just begun a three-hour marathon live from NYC, once again recapping that horrific day while interspersing it with quick speeches from Presidents Obama and Bush, tributes from victims’ family members and video collages from commemorative events across the nation.

At one point they replayed the GMA footage from that shocking morning, highlighting each tragic moment as it actually occurred, and like a slow-motion train wreck, I simply could not, would not, turn away.

The emotions flooded out once again, my heart racing faster with each clip, yet in the further reaches of my mind I kept wanting to change the channel or just turn the damn thing off.

But like that day 10 years ago, I could not.

And what bothered me the most, on a personal level, was my fear of something horrific happening again that day and wanting to “be there” when it happened. No matter how hard I tried, I could not shake the anxiety of another terrorist attack (thank you, Homeland Security), and I found myself questioning how our nation would react this time around.

I was angry with myself for the fear but had a rather unnerving confidence that America would respond stronger than ever, her sleeping-giant level having finally been reached.

Yet I was allowing the terrorists to dictate my feelings for the day, my concentration lost in every direction save for theirs, and that’s what made me even more frustrated.

I’m pretty sure I was not alone, and eventually, thanks in part to the NFL and fermented barley, I was able to shake the blues away, but by then it was too late to write about anything else.

So I did not.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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