Thursday, September 11, 2014

Carpe Diem

black ribbon remembering September 11

If, on September 10, 2001, your best friend had told you that the next day the World Trade Center Towers would be destroyed and thousands of lives would be lost, would you have listened and believed? If you're like me, probably not. That image seemed too absurd to even imagine. I took way too much for granted in my everyday life, including the fact that there would always be a tomorrow. I was wrong.

Since September 11, 2001, I've learned to say "I love you" --each and every day-- to those closest to me, sometimes more than once a day, because I no longer take for granted that I'll have a tomorrow to say it. This morning started with a beautiful dawn. Another kind of thing I used to take for granted. Sun rise happens every day. "I'll see it tomorrow." Do you ever wonder how many of the 2,983 victims of those attacks left for work that morning with the same kind of blasè perspective?

a beautiful dawn
a beautiful dawn
Photo by J. Harrington

In addition to all the lives lost, and the families disrupted, and the widows and widowers and orphans and grieving friends and relatives created thirteen years ago, it seems to me that one of the other real tragedies of that day is that, for too many of us, it takes something as unexpected and shocking as what happened to us thirteen years ago to bring us to our senses about what's important. What has become important to me since September 11, 2001 is to be attentive to those I care about and to be mindful of where and when I am. Too often I drift back into the old patterns and then the evening news will report some other tragedy that happened to some other folks and I'll remember that the tragic news could have been about my family, my friends, or me. As Horace observes, this is not a new lesson, but it seems to be one we find difficult to remember. Now, after reading Horace, it would be a good time to go and give your family a hug or two.

Ode I. 11

Leucon, no one’s allowed to know his fate,
Not you, not me: don’t ask, don’t hunt for answers
In tea leaves or palms. Be patient with whatever comes.
This could be our last winter, it could be many
More, pounding the Tuscan Sea on these rocks:
Do what you must, be wise, cut your vines
And forget about hope. Time goes running, even
As we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.

Horace (Roman, 65-8 B.C.E.)

[translated by Burton Raffel]

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