Monday, September 12, 2011

What the Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11 Taught Me

This was going to be a different post.  I planned to write about something else, but then yesterday happened.  As you all know, yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.  I remember exactly where I was that morning ten years ago and I remember everything I felt that day.  Therefore, I decided I was going to avoid coverage of the anniversary.  I felt as if the media were sensationalizing the events of that day.  I watched a little bit of the memorial dedication in the morning and did not turn the tv back on all day.  At 8 o’clock last night I finally caved in and watched a documentary of a group of firemen who were there on that day.
 I had seen this particular documentary before, but I couldn’t look away.  As I watched I thought about the lives that were lost that day and about the town that I live in now.  I live in a commuter town where a number of people commute to New York City on a daily basis.  Within close proximity of my home there are two buses, a ferry, and a train station all leading to New York.  My town is known as the town with the highest number of September 11th casualties for any town outside of New York.  There is a memorial at the train station dedicated to those from this town who perished on that day.  I’ve been there.  The saddest part is imagining these people waiting for their train to come, going to work, sitting at their desk, and then never making it home.  They simply went to work and never came back. 
At this point it sounds cliché, but that is the truth.  It was an ordinary day.  But how many times has this happened?  Someone goes to work or out to run an errand and never returns having gotten into a car accident or something like that.  What makes Septemember 11th so tough, for me, is that so many lives were lost and the most horrific part was, this was no accident.  Human beings plotted and carried these attacks out against other human beings.  I still cannot comprehend it ten years later.
As I watched that documentary yesterday a thought kept creeping into my mind: I want my life to mean more.  If nothing else, these attacks show us how precarious life is.  I am sure many of those people that died had plans to have dinner with friends that night, or see a movie, or go on a weekend trip and they never made it.  How many do you think kept thinking “someday I will (fill in the blank)” and never got to do it? 
For me this anniversary shone a mirror to my face.  Life is uncertain.  There are many things I have been putting off until “I had more money” or “I was ready” or (my personal favorite) “Once I lose weight.”  In doing and saying these things I put my life on hold.  I tricked myself into believing I had more time than I actually do, because I don’t know how much time I have.  None of us do.  It’s scary to think of one’s own death.  None of us wants to do it.  So we keep living on autopilot as though that will keep us safe from dying.  I read a quote once that sums it up this way: “Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.” 
For a long time I have done this.  I kept telling myself, once I graduate high school and go to college I will start to live, then it became once I graduate college and start working I will being to live, then it was once I find the right career, and it has ALWAYS been once I lose weight I will live.  Yesterday, was a reminder that I don’t have that kind of time.  If I want to do or be something then I need to start doing and being it now because right now is where life is.  There are many things that I have put off for tomorrow and now I plan to start working on them today.  Here’s a list of things I have always wanted to do but kept putting off:
1. Become better with my personal finances
2. Run the Broad Street Run 10 miler- in Philadelphia
3. Learn to swim
4. Travel more and live abroad (again)
5. Get married and have a family
6. Forgive people from my past
7. Forgive and love myself
8. Go camping
These are just a few, but it’s a great start.  Do you have a list of things you have been putting off?     

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