I didn’t write a “where I was” post for 9/11 this year. I didn’t write one last year. On that note, I also was not alive when Kennedy was shot or when the Atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima so I have no good point of reference for those events. I remember where I was, where I was going and the events from that day. I understand, in theory, why we use this point of reference for momentous events like this. But my mind doesn’t work like many people. I don’t connect where I was and what I did with the emotions I felt at that time and how this humongous event affected my life. I read with slight irritation every year for at least the last five when people post where they were.
I don’t fault them the emotions they feel though. The sadness and remembered anguish from loved ones lost, the relived relief at hearing of bare misses because of the quirks in time and scheduling that allowed friends and family to not be in places that they would have normally been, the imagined fear of what could have been had our way of life changed more than it has or has their loved ones been lost in those instances by putting themselves in another’s shoes. I’ve been unfortunate enough to be faced with tragedy and seen what it can do to seemingly strong people. It’s not a pretty sight, so I don’t begrudge them that opportunity. However a quote came across my Facebook stream this weekend that best summed up how I felt:
Do not ask me where I was on 9/11 for that is not of importance to me. Ask instead if I have made the world a better place in the days since. Ask if there were tears for those I never met and prayers for families I do not know. Ask if I had faith in spite of the fear. Ask if I support the heroes, the warriors, the survivors and the ones still in the fight. Do not ask the “Where”. Ask instead “Who” I have become.
If you’ve been reading my blog with any regularity during the last year, you’ll see that I feel strongly for many people I’ve never had the privilege of meeting. (and regularity is obviously a relative term given how often I’m able to squeeze time in to write) These people are near and far and most of them have been Cancer patients or their relatives helping loved ones battle their way through the horrible disease. I honor their lives through running because the rigors of training for a endurance events like marathons and half-marathons are nothing compared to what they see in their day to day life. But I digress.
What have I done to make the world a better place? I could answer simply by putting the old adage of do good unto others into action on a day to day basis, but that’s definitely too simple for the actions necessary. Instead, I will say that I’ve made my life richer, not only by doing more, but by being open to more. By taking chances that ten years ago (heck, two years ago!) I would have been to afraid to make. By making a point to take time for those around me and by learning that the action or non-actions of others do not always reflect on the person I am. By cutting the histrionics from my life and dis-allowing the negativity of others to affect me. And by taking the time to smell the flowers and enjoy life. To write more, to play more, to love more. Because time is short and you never know when and where your next adventure will come from. As Albert Camus once said, “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.”