Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ta Duh- Don't waste a minute, lessons from 9/11

On the day in question, I went to work at my office at Merrill Lynch's US Private Client headquarters in Plainsboro, NJ. My 2 year-old was home with our babysitter. My husband went to his job in Manhattan. As with anyone in financial services in NJ, I worked with a lot of folks in NYC; they were at the World Financial Center, across from the WTC. I was on the phone with someone as he watched the first plane, and then, impossibly- the second plane hit the Towers. We didn't understand the magnitude until hours later. How strange it seems now, knowing all that happened- that we just hung up casually, because there was a message coming through the building's PA and he wanted to hear it.

Time stood still in Plainsboro, we all knew so many people in the area- many of us had worked downtown, had lunch at the plaza, shopped in the mall underground. We were just stunned as the information came out. We tried to reach people in NYC, watched our computers to see what was happening, and finally we closed the office and everyone headed home.


I arrived in my little town 10 minutes from my office and sent my babysitter home. We'd just moved from NYC a few months earlier and I didn't know the neighbors. I felt incredibly alone. I tried to call my husband, it was impossible, all the phone lines were tied up. He worked in midtown, so I thought he was fine, but I needed to hear from him. I played with my daughter and finally put her to bed. It turned dark, and I sat silently watching TV. I didn't know what to do. It was like being in shock.

Finally Steve called- he had walked from midtown to a friend's house, 40 blocks, where he stayed with a group who had gathered from many points. He slept there, of course, getting home late the next day. We were very lucky, between us, none of our friends died- though many saw sights that will haunt them always. He talked of the people he saw who were obviously walking out of the disaster area, some hurt, lots of ash and dirt, people borrowing cell phones, some wearing face masks.

In the weeks following, people were glad to see you- our dry cleaner was worried when we didn't pick up at the usual time, he lost a significant number of clients (who were also friends). The community was hit hard. Someone's brother was a fireman killed at the site. When she was 5, Hanna started school and David Beamer was in her class. His dad was Todd Beamer, famous for being a leader on the flight that crashed in PA. I still think of it every summer, when we see Lisa and the kids at the pool- including Morgan, who never met her father. Our post office was rededicated to Todd. Lisa's book is in the library. Almost everyone had a story of some kind.

Perhaps you weren't as directly impacted as those of us in the East were, perhaps you don't have the vivid memories and connections. After 9/11, I began a path that took me out of the corporate world. I knew I could have a lot more fun than I was having in that job, in that place, at that time! I found coaching, a job where I can be passionate about helping other people create lives they love. I stopped waiting for the ideal circumstances and decided to make today a great day. It's not always easy, but I try to live from that perspective. And that's what I hope you do- make every day count.

Blogs are like diaries. I've been thinking and remembering 9/11 for the past week, so it's what came to mind when I sat in front of my computer today. I don't mean to be preachy, but I do mean to bring it home in ways that might engage you- life is short, enjoy the hell out of it!

So, go forth and enjoy the day, it only happens once!

Very SINCERELY, Barbara