"Where were you on 9/11?" For those a bit older, the defining question used to be, "Where were you when JFK was shot?"
I was mildly acquainted with a handful of people, and by extension, about two dozen, who died so needlessly that horrible day 8 years ago.
The anniversary of 9/11 is a benchmark but it can also be a turning point. We have so many of those "markers"...I'll start it on Monday, New Year's, the first day of a new season, etc... 9/11 is a very sobering date, and a reminder to reflect.
I was at 100 Park Avenue, on the 34th Floor when one of my brothers called at noon to ask why I was still in Manhattan. He said Grand Central Station was closed, and I'd have to walk over the 59th St Bridge to get home. My other brother was in Spain, and would not be able to fly home for a few days. My sister was on Long Island, and could smell the acrid smoke as it wafted 30 miles eastward. When I got outside, literally thousands of people were running down 42nd St, and some were screaming that the Chrysler Bldg might be the next target. I felt like I was in a dubbed monster movie and I ran north up to the bridge, hoping that I'd get to the other side. I had strangers stay at my house overnight. Some were wandering around my Long Island City, Queens neighborhood, and had no idea where they were, or how they'd get home to New Jersey or Westchester.
9/11 is a reminder for me that life can change in an instant, and we can only control so much. It's a call to balance life's financial rollercoaster, the unexpected layoff, the alarming letter asking for a second mammogram, the shock of identity theft, etc...because they are in retrospect minor inconveniences in the face of what happened to so many innocent people 8 years ago.
I focus positive energy on the people who matter to me and those who make up my circle--family, friends, colleagues, neighbors. Slow down. Take a look around. Appreciate what you have and what you're making of it.