Today is September 11, the anniversary of one of the most horrific days in American history.
I live just a few miles from the Pentagon. A few weeks before that day, I was on that very same flight. There was a creepy guy sitting across from me. I later learned that, in the weeks prior to 9-11, those who hijacked that flight took practice runs.
I don’t want to make too much of that. But still, creepy.
I waited at home with my 9-month old for the rest of my family to return. We had two other boys in grade school, and many mothers were making the choice to go by the school and pick their kids up early.
I decided not to do that. I was NOT going to allow those terrible people to dictate how I behaved.
They still did, of course.
It was really hard for our family members to get home. Many walked the eleven miles on the bike path that connects DC to suburban Virginia. A friend’s husband was at the dentist nearby and she asked me to drive over there and tell him what happened so he wouldn’t go back into DC. A lot of us did strange errands like that. Phone lines weren’t working very well. We all had babies. We were doing the best we could.
We have a memorial tree growing in our front yard in memory of my only daughter, Grace. That afternoon, when the children came home, we gathered by the tree and had a little remembrance ceremony. I played “Amazing Grace” on my flute. I have known since the death of my daughter that an essential part of my parenting responsibility was to teach my children how to grieve well. So, I did.
While all of this was going on, I watched the newscast of what was happening in New York. I was feeding the baby as one of the towers fell. That was pretty surreal.
It’s the core of the human experience. It was always there. It’s just that 9-11 made people remember not to forget to remember that THIS LIFE – this ONE beautiful moment, in fact – is really, truly, all that we have.
On days like today, it’s easy to remember not to forget.
But in just a couple of days, maybe even by this weekend, the undeniable truth of our own mortality will fade into the background.
It’s easy to live your life the way you are meant to live it when you are smacked upside the head with the truth that you could die any day now. It’s much harder to make the choices you need to make when you forget to remember that, it’s not just that you are GOING to die. It’s that you don’t know when.
And that not-knowing, that uncertainty around the time that remains for you personally, is what I’d like you to try and remember.
It’s critical to stay in touch with our own mortality, not because it is morbid, or because we are “dwelling” on negative things. (By the way, what could ever be “negative” about the truth? It just is.)
Not tomorrow. Not when you finish thus and such or so and so. Not when the kids graduate, or you retire.
Today. Now. THIS MINUTE.
Some of us won’t be here tomorrow.
It could be you. It could be me.
One thing’s for sure — It’s GOING TO BE one of us.
And then, think of how you’d like to live THIS day in light of that reality.
We remember — and ACT ON our own inherent greatness.
We live our own Best Life in tribute
to those who left too soon.
Not because we are citizens of this country or that country, but because we are each part of something bigger than that. We are each an essential component of the human tribe.
EVERYONE has something to contribute. Even the evil people contributed. They reminded us of our own capacity to love, to triumph, to raise our consciousness toward the collective good.
We are not defeated. They did not break us. We will not yield on that.
In remembrance of all whose lives were lost that day and all who remained to tell the tale,
“Blessed Be, and God Bless America.”
P.S. I’d love to hear about the day that changed your life, whatever day that was. Let’s keep hope alive in the Wisdom Circle comments below. And don’t forget, sign up for updates here:
photo: flickr, Erik Daniel Frost