This year, September 11 was a good day.
It started with a solo run down Creek Road in the early morning hours. The temperature was a cool mid-70s, and each step felt easy and light. I ran thinking about 9/11 and the solemnity associated with the anniversary of those hateful attacks. I ran grateful for the cool, clean air and the peace of the morning.
After my run, I met my friend, Nancy, for breakfast. Nancy is a friend from Lake Hills Church and the triathlon world. I got to talking to her in 2003 or 2004 at St. Stephen’s pool during a triathlon training program after recognizing her as a familiar face from church. Since then, she’s inspired me. She’s a few years older than I am and in amazing shape, despite surgeries and seasons of not being able to do much. She’s adventurous and loves the outdoors, and, each day, I aspire to be as healthy, strong and lean as she is. This morning, we caught up on one another, and I remembered all over again why I like her so much. She is as strong as she is tender, and she challenges me with each conversation.
After breakfast, Nancy and I met our friend Joslin for church. Today, we visited Riverpoint Church. Joslin and the pastor, Chris Larsen, used to work together at Lake Hills Church, and Chris taught adult classes, which I sometimes attended. From what I’ve seen, he is a teacher at heart, so I welcomed the opportunity to hear him teach again. Today, he taught on Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength.” After a strained week, it was a message I needed to hear. What I heard was, “Put all that stuff down, and just love God.”
After I said goodbye to Nancy and Joslin, I spent some time with my friend, Cindy. She is another Lake Hills Church connection, though I also know her through legal circles. I think it’s been a year or so since I last saw Cindy, which baffles me. How could so much time pass between visits when we live in the same town and care for each other so much? I loved catching up with her and hearing about the opportunities that have come her way since she changed professions a few years back. She is another strong woman I admire.
After hanging out with Cindy, I went to an improvisational songwriting workshop taught by a woman named Susan Dias. I met Susan at an Austin Bat Cave event. At that event, we got to talking about writing, and she gave me article ideas and started to teach me about songwriting on the spot, so I was thrilled to get an invitation from her to an actual workshop. I’m considering signing up for a longer term class with her because I don’t believe I can sing and she’s convinced I can. I like people who believe I can do great things! That and I enjoyed her energy the night I met her. She’s a “can do” person.
After the workshop, I came home and did laundry and did some writing for a couple of different clients, which, of course, I enjoyed. I also paid bills and organized my house a bit. I love doing these things. I love going from unorganized to organized. It feels good.
That was my September 11. Fun, social, productive, rewarding. It was actually a lovely way to start my week.
In addition to writing and having started my own business, these days I’m doing contract work for a law firm. It occurred to me this evening that I’m back in the office where I was when 9/11 happened. I’m back with my old boss and my old managing partner in the halls I know so well. I remember standing in the conference room in that office surrounded by my co-workers – people I consider to be family given our many years together – watching the news and experiencing the shock of witnessing those towers fall. I remember wondering if my friends Rod and Julie, who lived in New York at the time, were okay. They were. I remember trying to focus on the brief I had due that day. Somehow it all got done.
I can’t believe that was ten years ago. I remember it so clearly. How could a decade have passed since that day?
I’m aware that today is a hard day for many. One of my favorite people from my youth lost a cousin in 9/11, so I know today, even more so than usual, is a day of contemplation and mourning for her. While I was folding laundry, I turned on the television to some of the 9/11 tributes and stories about firefighters who survived that day but died more recently. Each person interviewed said something much like the one before – that life is short, and we are lucky to have it.
Life is short. And I do feel incredibly fortunate for the life I have. On this anniversary of 9/11, I think about the opportunities that I have and the people I get to love and be loved by and the worries and hurts of the week evaporate.
Ten years later, I’m left with gratitude. Tons and tons of gratitude.