Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
Sage Ann Hibberd is the most peaceful person you’ll ever meet. The 25-year-old was born in Meeker, Colorado, and now lives in Jackson, Wyoming, with her loving boyfriend, Jerod. This winter, she’ll be working as a ski instructor, but by trade, she’s a graphic designer and organic gardener. She’s also a visionary. “I am interested in spreading awareness of the issues that are not in the media these days. There are a lot of problems in this world that we, as arrogant Americans, are not aware of and chose not to be aware of. I hope to bring this awareness to the surface of at least the people around me. I think there is still hope, but something must be done now.”
To do their part, she and Jerod are in the process of building a straw bale home, starting an organic farming business and divorcing themselves from their cars. Not content with simply changing their individual lives, the ambitious duo have launched the Teton Sustainability Project, a non-profit organization that will promote sustainable living in the region. In her free time – if there is any – Sage seeks out activities that allow her to be in the moment: climbing, windsurfing, hiking, biking, skiing, reading, playing music. She’s traveled to Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and various places throughout the United States. As for her faith, “I was not brought up in a church, but my faith comes from my own experience with the something that is out there, that is bigger than we are. Occasionally I pray to the mother (earth that is).” On Sept. 11, Sage was laying bricks in the yard. She wrote her essay at the end of September following a trip down the Grand Canyon.
We received the news late on September 11th because of our lack of communication at times. We didn’t turn on the news until noon. At this time, I was shocked and horrified as most Americans at the destruction that had gone on in NYC, D.C. and Pennsylvania. The names of people I knew in the city ran through my head, especially my close friend Tracy who worked across the street from the World Trade Towers (I came to find out later that she was late for work and saw the whole thing from a distance.).
I am one of the lucky ones who didn’t lose anyone in this disaster, so at first, I couldn’t make any judgments on what should be done. When NPR (National Public Radio) brought the voices of people who had lost loved ones, my opinions were reinforced by theirs. I don’t really believe in violence at all, and I think a stronger stance wouldn’t be one of violence, but one of love and peace. I agree that the terrorists should be brought to justice so that no more lives are lost to their ways of destruction. I do not believe that we should endanger the lives of more Americans in a war in Afghanistan, and I do not believe we should harm civilians in those countries we believe are “harboring” terrorists.
I left for a river trip down the Grand Canyon about a week after the attacks. I felt guilty for feeling excited about my upcoming expedition. It wasn’t until I was hiking down into the canyon at 5:00 a.m. that I became immersed in the magic of the canyon and forgot – or at least repressed – the images of the world above the rim. The thought of no communication became comforting and all worries faded.
The next week proceeded with a feeling of truly living in the moment and enjoying all the canyon has to offer, from its hidden secrets and abundance of wildlife to its terrifying raging rapids.
If there is a bright side to this tragedy, I found it in the voice of a fellow passenger on the trip. He was a young British man who is in the process of transforming his life into complete happiness, a state that most of us will never reach and don’t know how. He said that perhaps in this event of great tragedy and loss, we can all learn how precious life is and make a life for ourselves in which we are truly happy and satisfied. I believe he is right, for I have already seen people reevaluating their lives, including myself.
I was reluctant to return to the rim of the canyon for fear of losing contact with the people I met and the canyon itself. I was afraid to see my beautiful canyon life shattered by the tragedies of the real world. One of the guides said to me the canyon is the real world. Now I realize how much those words mean to me, that there are still places that are so pure and beautiful and sacred.
When I came home, I had the after-Grand Canyon blues when I was exposed to all the things above the rim that trouble me. I am now trying to live within the moment and do what makes me happy. I have seen a lot of patriotism among the citizens of my small town. It is nice to see such camaraderie between people around the world and in my community, something that I believe has been lacking for quite some time. I was happy to hear the president isn’t being hasty and that there is a movement of peace, even among New Yorkers.
So for all the tragedy of these events, I believe my British friend was right. There will be some light for us all.