Every year on September 11th I appreciate being alive and wonder why I’m not dead. I worked in the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001. Tower Two. I was out of town that day. I easily could have been there, but was not. And each year I ask myself the same questions.
How is the world different because I lived on September 11th when others died? What have I done in the last 12 months to make the world smaller and to build community each time I get on a plane, walk in a store, meet someone new and have a conversation? Where have I played small? Said yes when I meant no? Said no when I wanted to say yes? Or didn’t say anything at all?
The further we get from September 11th the more it impacts me. I’m struck by the people who died and didn’t finish what they started. I’m struck by human being’s continued approach to solving problems with violence. And each year I debate how to mark the day.
I think about marking the day privately, in my own way. But I always feel compelled to reach out. For me September 11th is the outcome of a lack of community and thus it is a public conversation.
Each year I reach out to my friends and colleagues at OppenheimerFunds who shared the days after September 11th. I let them know I’m grateful for them and I’m happy they’re alive. I remember my mother’s panicked call needing to confirm that I was indeed out of town on September 11th, and what it must be like for a parent to fear her child is in harm’s way. And then I reflect on my year.
Perhaps September 11th is my day of atonement. It is the day every year on which I reflect on my contribution to the world and how the world is or is not different because I am in it. What difference have I made, will I make? What am I doing that I love and who am I doing it with?
I will leave you with this. What are you doing that’s important to you, today? What are you doing that’s not? How did you make the world smaller, today?