Dear Ones –
I've been searching all day for the right thing to say on September 11th.
I was in New York City that day. I slept and then meditated through the attack. When I finally got my morning started and turned my phone back on, I had two dozen messages. It had all already happened.
Wanting to help, I immediately went to a hospital and tried to donate blood, and was turned way because there were too many of us who wanted to donate, and not enough need. An ambulance driver outside the hospital told me, "There aren't many injuries. Nearly everyone who was there died."
In the years since, the world has changed — and it has not yet unchanged. There has been no end to war. There has been no end to fear. I have many feelings about this endless state of war, and the results of all the fear, but today is not the day to share those feelings.
Instead, my thoughts today turn to something I overheard in New York in the days after 9/11. There was a lot of anxiety and dread floating about the city, for obvious reasons, but I had one friend who remained resolutely fearless through it all, even when everyone else was having anxiety attacks about getting on the subway, or hoarding canned food, or creating apocalyptic plans for escaping town if necessary.
My resolute friend was talking to one of my most anxious friends, who asked, "How can you be so calm when we could be attacked again at any moment?"
My resolute friend replied, "Because I refuse to lead a panic-driven life, and because we are not under attack right now."
My anxious friend said, "But how will you behave if we DO come under attack?"
And my resolute friend replied calmly: "With dignity, hopefully."
I have never forgotten her words. The world is an uncertain place. We never will see what is coming. Uncertainty is the only rule. Hold onto your dignity, though — no matter what. And within that dignity, safeguard your compassion, your grace, your courage.
Sometimes that's all we have, but it's also the best we have.