Greetings All —
I’m turning this one over to the message, plain and simple.
I have watched several documentaries and dramas about September 11, 2001 in the last few weeks and one of my most potent lingering thoughts is this — What would I have done if I had had to choose between escape from one of those buildings or stopping to help someone along the way? What would I have done?
I would like to believe I would have stopped to help. Truth be told, I’m not so sure.
There are so many moments in life that really tell us who we are, what we’re made of. Few are as dramatic as life and death. But still, if we choose to look, we will notice test after test after test.
Do we leave a bigger tip because we don’t want another person to think we’re cheap? Do we drop some money in the homeless person’s bucket because we’re trying to impress a friend and scoff at it when we’re alone? Do we think the death penalty is wrong until someone harms our own loved one? Do we hear someone’s good news and instead of being happy for him wonder why it’s not happening to us? Do we live a good life because it’s innate or because it’s our ticket to some glorious afterlife?
I invite you to ask yourself: What are you made of?
A friend recently told me her proudest moments were the times in life where she stuck to her guns. I love that. Because, on the flip side, the times where we don’t stick to our guns are likely some of our biggest regrets. And in both cases, if we’re emotionally and spiritually healthy, we feel those moments deep in our gut and they resonate and become part of who we are.
I am reading a book of meditations called The Way To Love given to me by another friend. In it, author Anthony de Mello writes:
Take a look at a rose. Is it possible for the rose to say, “I shall offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people?” Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light? It could only do that by ceasing to be a lamp. And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone … even to the one who seeks to cut it down.
Those words and ideas are a testament to nature and the natural state. That understanding almost begs the question, What is your default state? What is your first, immediate, unself-conscious reaction to a person or occurrence? Are you naturally kind or do you have to work at it? Do you unabashedly run everything through filters of mean-spirited judgment? Can you extract lessons from treatment you feel is wholly unfair?
Ask yourself some hard questions. Maybe that’s what September should always be about. The earth shook that day five years ago. Where did you land?