Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/01 + 10 years = 9/11/11

"Our lives are going to change."

That is how I found out about 9/11/01. From my cognitive psychology professor at the beginning of a 10:30am class.

Even though I grew up in Long Island, I instantly knew that no one in my family was anywhere near the World Trade Center. I did know, however, that it was only a matter of time before someone we knew was there. My dad's colleague who was on the 70th-something floor of one of the towers and got out 15 minutes before the building collapsed. My neighbor's son who was in the Pentagon. Two of my aunt's preschool students who lost their fathers. How do you explain 9/11 to a 4-year-old? It was hard enough for adults to wrap their minds around it, no less a child.

I got sick of 9/11 a few years ago. I had to turn the TV off because I just did not want to see those images over and over and over again. I saw them enough on an endless loop on 9/11/01. I was done.

I do not want the weather to be the same as that day. A beautiful early fall day with crisp air and clear blue skies.

I do not want to hear the bells. The bells. They always get me. At 12 noon on 9/11/01, 3,000 members of the Boston College community gathered on an open plaza underneath a Gothic tower. The clock bells tolled. Everyone was silent. Scared. Confused.

I am in DC for 9/11/11 visiting my husband. He is part of how I found out about 9/11 because he was sitting in front of me in that cognitive psychology class. I saw the Pentagon off in the distance yesterday. That was ... unsettling. I was out for a run and had to stop. I couldn't just run along and pretend like everything was fine. The 10 year anniversary didn't really hit me until I realized I was so close to where hundreds of people lost their lives.

If I had a choice, I would be back at Boston College today. Just after I graduated, BC dedicated a labyrinth as a 9/11 memorial. It is a series of twists and turns laid out in concentric circles. It is not a maze. There is one path to the center of the labyrinth. It is supposed to offer an opportunity for meditation. Follow the path to the center, spend some time there, and follow the same path back out. I stumbled into the labyrinth sort of by accident the first time I walked it. I've been back many times since then. The labyrinth has taught me something different and something important every time I have walked through it. Focus on now. Don't try to predict the path. Make the most of the journey. How did I get here and where am I going next? See where you've been.

The first time I walked the labyrinth

And the second

The most recent time

Yes, our lives changed. So does the labyrinth, just as what I take away from walking through it changes every time.

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