There is little doubt in my mind that people of a certain age remember where they were on September 11, 2001. It was the Kennedy assassination of my generation. Most remember where they were… what they were doing… who they were with. I certainly do.
I was up early, sitting in the waiting area at the Land Rover dealership as the oil in my Discovery II was being changed. It was an average September day, and I had hit the ground running so I could catch a yoga class before gearing up for an afternoon training session. A morning news show was on–like it probably was every weekday–and I sat, watching, waiting for my name to be called, a cup of tea warm in my hands. Suddenly, the TV news personality learned of a plane–later identified as Flight 11 which departed from Boston–that had hit the one of the World Trade Center towers. I sat, others gathered around, and we watched. Camera crews were all over New York City, capturing the chaos that was unraveling before all of our eyes. Still, we sat. Stupified. Then we watched as the other plane–Flight 175, also out of Boston–hit the second tower. Live. On television. How could this be?! We were horrified, mouths agape. It became clear, as President Bush said today at the 9/11 Memorial, that the first plane might have been an accident, but the second plane made it very clear that we were under attack.
My car was soon ready and as I left the parking lot, I turned on the radio. Every station was broadcasting the same thing. Reports and accounts of what was happening in New York. A friend called me to find out if I had heard what was going on. (What WAS going on?!) And we stayed on the phone as I drove the 45 minute commute back home–sometimes talking, but mostly sitting in silence together as the horrors and discoveries of other hijackings unfolded. I got home with enough time to grab my yoga mat and head to class. On the way there, Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
When I got to the studio, no one was talking about what was going on outside of the room. I’m not sure if they didn’t know at the time–maybe they didn’t have their TVs or radios on–or if they were simply honoring the sacred space that we all gathered in for the moving meditation that was our yoga practice. As we began to roll out our mats and settle in to the start of class, the South Tower collapsed and Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania–rather than the believed target of Washington, DC, as a group of informed passengers attempted to overtake the hijackers. Of course, we didn’t know this at the time. And thank goodness. It was all I could do to unplug from the chaotic events that I’d witnessed and move on my mat. The practice was peaceful and soulful. And exactly what I needed.
After I got out of class, I had several messages from concerned family members andfriends. Did I hear? Is everything okay? Did you know anyone on the Boston flights? Oh God, what is happening?
Our friends in New York couldn’t be reached because the phone lines were overwhelmed with people trying to call in and out in an attempt to make sure their loved ones were safe. There was a feeling of uncertainly. Unease. Were we at war? I canceled my afternoon appointments. Spoke with my mother. And eventually settled in before the television like so many other people probably did. I lit a vigil candle and put it on my front porch. I prayed.
There was an impromptu service in the downtown district where I live, and we attended with hundreds of other members of the community. We were given candles to hold, and as prayers were said, tears streamed down the cheeks of many. The National Anthem was sung. God Bless America. Strangers reached out and held hands… gave each other hugs. It was tragically beautiful, and kind of a shame that it took something like this to bring a community this close together. But it did, and it was comforting.
The weeks and months that followed were unlike any other times that I could remember. Particularly air travel. It was remarkable how friendly and courteous fellow passengers were. Some introduced themselves to the person sitting beside them. Conversations happened where before only the universal signs of “leave me alone” were visible. The open book. The iPod. The eyeshade.
Fast forward ten years.
I didn’t realize that this anniversary of 9/11 would affect me as much as it did. In the week leading up to today, I’ve felt a deep sense of unease. I had an off moment teaching a yoga class Wednesday morning, and allowed someone to rattle my proverbial cage. It weighed on me. But underneath that, there was this… something. Almost an internal white noise that I couldn’t put my finger on. It was like the low hum of electronics left on. A vibration that stirred from my soul. It didn’t feel good, and I couldn’t shake it.
Friday night, it was still there–even after I’d gotten my teaching mojo back for several classes since Wednesday’s fumble. I taught four classes that day, each well attended and received. Afterward, a shower was followed by dinner and a glass of wine at one of my favorite local restaurants on the river. There was even a table available–score! This weekend is looking up!
As the last sips were had and my nearly untouched dinner salad was boxed up, we left the building as someone outside the door solemnly said, “Have a good holiday… never forget.”
Dammit–the “noise” I was hearing was this subconscious reckoning of Sunday’s anniversary. It had to be.
The discussion on the car ride home centered on not allowing the negativity of the events on 9/11 to invade my psyche… It was a choice. I could choose to remember. I could choose to forget. Or I could choose HOW to remember. And so that’s what I’ve done.
I choose not to forget that so many innocents lost their lives, but I also choose to remember how this community… this nation… pulled together. I choose to remember the woman who came up to me and gave me a hug in front of the town hall as she cried woefully, selecting me and others around her to cling to in a moment of solidarity. I choose to believe that people are good… and we can overcome the evils in the world.
I choose peace. I choose love. Today… and everyday.