When I was a kid, I used to calculate the age I would be when the year 2000 came along. It seemed so distant to me in 5th and 6th grade. I could barely imagine what it would be like to be that old. Now that it’s more than ten years further on than that, it seems like the years have passed in barely the time it takes to scratch an itch. In time’s true relative form though, it seems like eons since September 11, 2001.
I had only been a Buddhist for about three years on 9/11 and truth be told I really didn’t know what it all meant. I had no vocabulary yet to process what happened in a meaningful spiritual way. During this transition time, I was somewhat groundless in that regard. Of course, now I understand that’s part of the point.
What is ten years in progression of time for the universe? In the progression of time for humanity? In the progression of time for a single life? This concept of a decade is human-made, a construct with no literal meaning in terms of how long it took the ash to clear from the skies over New York or how the earth at Ground Zero heals itself. This is the way in which we with our limited senses delineate past, present and future. Still, I join many others in this country who are taking special time to reflect on the deeper meanings that can be gleaned from this tragedy.
My vocabulary is more extensive now. I have more connection to the principles of suffering, compassion, emptiness and ego-clinging, but still there is no inherent message to be coalesced from the attack and the injury and death the followed. There is only interpretation of experience based on your own symbols and circumstances.
Every person’s response to 9/11 and it’s tenth anniversary will be unique, but genuine. Some people will celebrate the remembrance of someone who died on that day. Others will look at their lingering scars and bow in gratitude for being alive. Some will suffer from survivor guilt and wonder what kind of karmic debt they incurred from their fortune. Others, who have bigger problems of their own won’t think of it at all, but simply continue with the tasks of their daily living.
Whatever your response is to the anniversary of 9/11, our world has still be changed by it. Wars have been fought, suspects have been detained, entire civilizations have been indelibly altered by the events of that day. As if by the flapping of an enormous butterfly’s wings the winds of the entire earth have changed their course and we all go on. We practice and love. We support and build. We carry with us the destiny and the legacy of everyone who was impacted by this disaster – both allies and enemies. We are strong enough for this burden, when we lift it together.
I welcome your reflections and memories below.
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