It is mid-morning on 9/11/06. As I sit in front of my computer, I am listening to the reports commemorating this day, 5 years ago. I remember where I was then.
I had arrived at my office, a full day of appointments scheduled. But a small group was also in the building. We gathered around a TV with very poor reception. No cable, and an antenna was not helping. But through “snow” and lines, we watched in horror as the second plane struck. We began to realize that this was not a mistake. Something else was going on. The story unfolded over the next days.
5 years have passed, and I ask: what has changed for you?
For me, I have been through a serious illness, several trips, and a serious reassessment of my life. I am in better shape than ever in my life, and I know where I want to go.
I am aware that in the aftermath of the attack, many people asked the question: what is my life about? What am I doing that is important and meaningful? Many people examined their lives, vowed to make changes, and some did. But many made vows that have fallen away. People promised to love like they never had before. People vowed to find jobs of significance. Some started relationships, others renewed relationships, and still others ended relationships.
What came to the surface to me was that anyone could make a life more meaningful, more full, without leaving a job or a relationship. In fact, sometimes, the way to transformation is through the difficulty, not by avoiding it.
And now, we arrive at one of my pet-peeves. I am convinced that we, in this society, have so much bought into the “pursuit of happiness” that we have cheapened what happiness is and tried to find shortcuts to it. Mostly, I think happiness has become the latest thrill, the newest product, the excitement of being self-centered. So, we ask “what will make me happy?” We don’t ask “what do I need to do to make a life of significance, to honor my integrity, and to find purpose?” That is the path to happiness.
This society has made relationships disposable. So, whenever I feel the relationship is not meeting my needs, I dispose of it. That tends to be our approach to everything, isn’t it? My latest toy isn’t working for me, off to the landfill. Soon, we have full landfills, too few resources, and a real crisis on our hands.
It is no different with relationships. Disposing of relationships leaves us without having to work through them. It also leaves horrible scars and patterns in our lives, and the lives of others (family, children, and society).
One of the lessons in the aftermath of 9/11 is that life can be taken in an instant. Physical possessions can be stolen in a moment. But love sustains us. Connection is our lifeblood, but only when we move through it and honor our relationships and commitments.
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