They say from the outside looking in, you can't understand it, and from the inside looking out, you can't explain it. After November 18, 2009, when it comes to Texas A&M and Bonfire, I feel like I'm inside and out.
In the literal sense, I stood inside the circle at the memorial. At 2:42 a.m., the thousands who were outside surrounding the old stack site were invited to the middle by the families of the fallen. I went inside sans camera. Because there were no microphones and speakers, I was, in large part, motivated by my desire to hear what was happening. What I got was an indescribable experience.
And that's what puts me off kilter. It's my job to describe things in front of me. Granted, I can tell you the names of the fallen were called, the Spirit of Aggieland was sung, and Amazing Grace was played by a bagpipe group. As for what I felt, that I cannot describe, and I don't know that I ever will be able to do so.
On Brazos Valley This Morning, the best I could come up with as description was that it was an "Aggie Spiritual experience," a line that I readily admit is a bit cheesy. The more I think about it (and that's been all I've thought about on this anniversary), it's as fitting a line as I can find. After all, there's a spirit can ne'er be told, right?
My colleagues have truly been affected in the days that have led up to the 18th. Many of us aren't Aggies, nor were we here when stack collapsed. While how others shape their words and their images in their stories is out of my control, I was kept up at night at times fearing that the coverage of this "outsider" wouldn't be up to the level that should be expected by Aggies. It's a fear I confided in my close A&M alum friends, those who were here a decade ago and more.
Their response: do your best...it's all you can do.
That in mind, I stepped inside the Bonfire Memorial at 2:42 a.m. Wednesday, and was met with an experience and an array of emotion that I will carry with me wherever I go. It may have brought me closer to being an Aggie insider as anyone without a ring can get.
For now, I find myself in limbo. However far inside I am, I can't explain it. However far outside I am, I can't understand it. Maybe...just maybe, I'm not supposed to.
Or maybe no one is. And maybe that's OK.