“When it’s time for you to learn more, Truth is there for the asking. It’s always with you. Unity is always with you. All you have to do is recognize it.” — Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
As with any anniversary of an event that changes our lives, the tenth anniversary of 9/11 calls up images of where we were and how we felt, images that stay with us over time, that will define this generation. My own 9/11 memories begin 14 years ago in 1997, in Pasadena, California. On that day, a woman I did not see ran a red light and folded my car into little more than an unsightly block of steel. I spun around in the intersection. I hit three other cars. I huddled around the steering wheel 50 yards from the initial crash site in front of an old stone church while paramedics pried me loose from my car. The long and the short of it is that I sustained a traumatic brain injury, the remnants of which are with me still.
Every year at this time, I have flashbacks of the accident. At first, the pictures in my head were vivid and very distressing. Somewhere along the way, thanks to the help of some great practitioners and the grace of God, the pictures became less evocative, less disturbing. Somewhere along the way, I chose to think of how far I’ve come since the accident rather than relive what actually happened.
That I do this is no small feat, but it is easier than I once imagined it would be because the images of the accident are mine alone and because I so wanted to break my ties to the terror. Unlike our national 9/11 the only sensationalism surrounding my 9/11 was in my own head, a smaller display terminal than the windscreen plasma TV’s and computer monitors that are, these days, being bombarded by footage of the Twin Towers.
It is said in one of the holy books of India that “Mastery of the binding life brings radiance.” I found this quote soon after the accident and posted it on my refrigerator. It helped me loosen the ties — the thoughts and images — that bound me to my 9/11, to switch the channels on my mental movie screen. As time went on, I learned that focusing on a negative experience, replaying it repeatedly in ones’ head, has almost the same biochemical effect on the body as the initial experience does. The body, the immune system, the heart and mind release a lot of bad juju into our blood stream each time we recall our negative experiences. Though I did not understand the mechanics of that then, I did know this: If I was to make the best out of what happened, I had to make the best out of what happened; I had to choose how I would think about the accident minute by minute, day after day, year after year.
With the anniversary of our 9/11 upon us, the press has begun to flood us with the most painful images of that day in an attempt to “honor” what happened. I’m thinking, however, that the way to honor our losses is to focus as best we can on who we have become as a result of our experience and who we still want to be. The images I choose to hold in my head and heart about our 9/11 revolve around how we came together as a nation to support each other in our time of sorrow. It’s something that, to this day, makes me proud to be an American.
On this 10th anniversary, during the week of September 15 – 21 st, 52 renowned Peacebuilders are gathering together for a free tele seminar to feed our hearts and souls with thoughts and images of Peace. This will be the largest virtual Peace Summit created to date, with participants joining us from all over the world. The leaders ask, “Are we the generation that will make the dream of a peaceful world a reality?” They offer practices for cultivating inner peace, ideas on creating peace in our families and communities, and ways to heal our collective wounds. And so much more! Visit their web site at http://peaceweek.info/ and sign up to participate in this extraordinary event.
Hold a good thought. “Let not your heart be troubled.”