September 11, 2006

9/11 Remembered

I was eating breakfast in a Wyoming diner when I first heard of the tragedy unfolding in New York. The waitress said a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. That night after biking all day to reach Colorado, radio reports were too confusing to be understood properly. It wasn't until the next day in Brekenridge that I got to see my first pictures of an infamous day in the history of the world.

Two days later, I was back on the road continuing on my way to eventually reach Texas. It was with great relief to be away from the media frenzy that played itself out in every place that had a tv or radio. I don't know how the nation, or the modern world for that matter, could have come away without psychological damage due to the relentless images and voices bombarding our senses 24/7.

But this wasn't my first experience like this. While hiking the Appalachian Trail, we came into town for resupply about 3 days after the Embassy bombing in Kenya. The headlines made no sense, since we weren't privy to the previous days information. Our needs were simple and direct: food, water, shelter. I know we live in a culture of information overload. As a traveler, I can take a step back away from the all pervasive media and breath a sigh of relief.

I have 9/11 anniversary memories too. One year later, I was visiting a cousin in Toulouse France where she took me to a vigil at a Buddhist Temple where people from many different backgrounds, countries and cultures gathered together with the intention to ease the pain and suffering in the world through prayer. For me it was my first real life experience of Buddhism, a philosophy that I had been studying for years.

The tragedy that America experienced on that day, is being repeated almost daily all over the world. Human beings have such a capacity to hurt each other, whether it is between two people or two nations or two ideologies. But for all that hate, pain and anger there are just as much if not more amounts of love, peace and joy. We each have an obligation to do our best in this life, which isn't possible if we are full of fear, full of hate.

Those men and women that died on 9/11 had their lives unexpectedly cut short. Do any of us know when it will be our time. Never forget those who are gone, but don't hold onto any feelings that would poison your mind. Why hold onto hate from the past, or fear the future. Only today is important, a moment that only exists now. And it will only be your 'best day' if you open up your hearts to everything life sends your way, celebrating the joy of being alive, of being human.