Today, on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack on our country, I didn’t suffer the anguish of losing a loved one in the tragedy. In fact, if I know someone who suffered a direct loss from the attacks, I’m not aware of it.
But, like every other human being, I’ve suffered loss and survived tragedy. I’m haunted. I don’t have dreams but my fears occasionally nibble at my sanity. I grieve.
And as I lay on my living room floor early this morning, breathing in the crisp, clear untainted air through the open sliding glass door, I was grateful I never had to inhale the stench of fire, smoke, and burning flesh. I closed my eyes and sucked that fresh air into my lungs, savoring it. A wildfire had once burned half a mile from my mountain home in western Montana and, although that experience certainly couldn’t compare to 9/11, it allowed me a brief glimpse at it.
My dog and cat–both elderly, with more and more white fur encroaching on their black velvet coats–lay across the room during these moments of introspection, hogging the sunspots on the floor in blissful oblivion. I’m a creature of the light, as my furry companions are, yet I know from personal experience how debilitating it is to live in darkness. How it drags you down, how it pours gasoline on the fire of your fears, how it threatens to eat you alive.
I thanked God for blessing me with a positive personality and giving birth to me in this country–where we have the freedom to lie on our living room floors on a Sunday morning, taking pleasure in the late summer sunshine, and doing nothing but giving thanks to our Higher Power, whoever He or She might be, without having to be constantly afraid.
Most of the things that happen to us are beyond our control: the sun rising and setting, the plots crazy madmen in other countries are intent on hatching, whether a genetic malfunction will manifest itself in our yet-to-be-born son, how one in four of the women we know and love (including our sisters and daughters) will be sexually assaulted.
We can’t control these events. Most of the time, we can’t even prevent them. What we can control, however, is how we respond to these horrific experiences. We can do our part, however small, in attempting to prevent them.
We can take something positive from crippling, mind-boggling acts of violence and calamity. We have to take something positive from them. Otherwise, the senselessness of it all will drive us insane.
Let’s share the positive today, appreciate our freedoms, and count our blessings. Together, we can make the world a better place.