I had an experience at the end of our annual “Always Remember” workout at CFNE this morning. It’s a very special workout for our community as they’re a lot of symbolism in the rep scheme that reminds us of things like actual date of 9/11, the number of planes that went down that day, and the number of people who lost their lives.
We do it every year, but only once a year. And, because of that, it stands out in our memories and carries a lot more weight than almost all others that we do together.
On a personal level, CFNE ends up being a place for me on 9/11 every year that I am even more grateful to have in my life than every other day because it gives me a physical space, as well as a community, to go and honor what this date is really all about. While we all look at this day through slightly different lenses, I think it’s safe to say that we all spend much of the day thinking about how lucky we are to have what we do have and getting a clearer perspective on what’s actually important…and, what is not.
At the end of today’s grueling 9/11 partner workout at CFNE, I was finishing my last rowing sprint when something happened to me that’s never happened before: I spent roughly the last 30 seconds imagining myself sitting on one of the planes that were going down. It wasn’t an intentional thought at all. In fact, it was more like I was tripping or something because I felt like it was actually happening to me. The deafening sound of the music, for me, turned into the buzzing heard from the inside of a plane going down. I could see myself tightening my seatbelt and holding hands with my family members sitting next to me. It was all clear as day to me, and as real as if it were actually happening at that moment.
It felt as crazy to me then as it probably sounds to you right now.
And, what I haven’t been able to get out of my head since 9:30 this morning is how calm I felt in that scenario. It was like a moment of acceptance swept over me and I found what I would think would be a rush of panic, actually surface as something more like a readiness to accept my faith.
I have, by no means, checked off everything on my bucket list. I have unfinished business with people that I know I need to address. And, there will forever be events that I would love to think I will be alive to witness like our children’s wedding days and the birth of grandchildren.
But, at almost 43 years old, I can at least say that I feel good about the foundation I have finally started to lay down for my life. It’s rooted in a comfort with knowing I will need a lifetime to keep uncovering all of the things I don’t even know. It’s mixed up with a growing curiosity about parts of the world and humanity that I used to not care much about. And, it’s all cemented together with a real and fully genuine love for the people around me: my family, my friends, and the strangers that I meet every day that help open my eyes to what living a life of selflessness is truly all about.
I use this day to flex as many gratitude muscles as I can and remind myself that I need to live my life in such a way that if my final hour came at any time on any day, I would be at peace with the direction I choose to send my energy every day. I don’t know when that hour will come, but if I spend my time behaving like today’s the day…I will, hopefully, end up there in that place of acceptance, and not one of panic.