On September 11th, 2001, my Long Island mother was in tears, but not because of the attacks. "This is the best gift I've ever received," she said to me by phone.
It was her birthday -- her 50th birthday -- and I had spent the summer making a video of old photos of her as well as rare video of her father who passed away two months earlier. So instead of watching a replay of the planes crashing into the towers over and over, my mom was already wearing out the VHS tape I gave her.
Bad things happen everyday: people starve, tumors spread, nature threatens. Fortunately hardships don't only reap, they can also sow. As our world got a little smaller on 9/11 many of our hearts softened, others hardened. It's a choice: compassion or vengeance, connectedness or isolation. And while I'll take a moment Sunday to reflect on the lives lost and the path we've traveled since, 9/11 also taught me the fine line between reflection and brooding. Following the attacks I found myself consuming way too much news -- and soon after the news began consuming me. The media saturation of WMDs, Abu Ghraib, sleeper cells and car bombs left me jaded. So this year I'm seeking a healthier balance for contemplation.
On 9/11/01, global strife finally came to our doorstep, shattered our naivety and left us feeling vulnerabile. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost in an instant. But even on our worst day, especially on our worst day, it's equally as important to remember all the things that make life good. Real good.
Today there were 490,000 births, 115,000 weddings, 700,000 people are visiting National Parks today, and currently 150,000 troops are working damn hard to create some semblance of stability in Iraq and Afghanistan.