Happiness is best experienced when we are willing to feel all the emotions deeply and richly. As Helen Keller said, “The hilltop hour would not be half as wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”
So I would like to share the following with you in the hope that it will make you feel something, that it will awaken you, that today will be a bit more meaningful, if not happier.
Last week I did something everyone MUST do: visit the newly opened 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
If you speak in the language of history, this was a turning point. As one person described, 9/11 happened in OUR life and therefore it’s OUR catastrophe.
In the future, it will be A catastrophe. But it is still OURS.
If you speak in the language of energy, the 3,000 souls lost on 9/11/01 are stirring amidst this stone and steel cathedral. Being there, you are both haunted and transfixed. An energy moves you to stand tall, to be quiet, to pay attention.
I will skip 99% of what lies in the Memorial. You need to see it for yourself.
But there is one part I need to share. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it will wake you up today. And if it can awaken just one of you, it’s worth sharing.
In a small alcove of the Memorial, there is a section about those people who, overwhelmed with heat and smoke, jumped or fell from the Twin Towers.
James Gilroy, a distraught bystander on that fateful morning, described one woman in the moments before she jumped:
“She had a business suit on, her hair all askew. This woman stood there for what seemed like minutes and then she held down her skirt and jumped off the ledge. I thought, how human, how modest, to hold down her skirt before she jumped. I couldn’t look anymore.”
This woman came to her final moment, horror racing through, ramshackling her memories of her family and friends, shattering the windows of her reality… and even then, EVEN THEN… she did it with dignity.
EVEN THEN, she found the grace and repose to stand tall… to hold down her skirt as she jumped.
If she can find such dignity while staring over the edge of life, 1300 feet above the ground…
…how can we not do it too?!
We have our lives and for that we are blessed.
Today, to anyone out there who is crumpled up in a ball of stress or anxiety or fear…
… let’s honor that lady who found the dignity and strength to hold down her skirt before she jumped from the edge of the World Trade Center.
Today… stand taller, be kinder, live deeper.
Just like that lady, you, too, are strong.