So today marks 15 years since 9/11 and I have a re-emerging perspective on what that day means to me as a former NYC resident, an American citizen, and as a human being. Up to that point what I had learned while living in NYC was to keep my energy to myself, to slip by undetected, with as little human contact as possible . . . always trying to protect the much depleted resources of time and energy. But on that day, when absolutely everyone around me in concentric circles from my own little Brooklyn perch where the smoke and ash from the downed towers bent over our heads, spreading across this beautiful land and indeed around the whole earth, were holding their breaths and floating upon the same sense of groundlessness, something amazing was revealed: Kindness, Compassion, Courage, Connection, and Resiliency. See, we struggle with this sense of groundlessness everyday and especially in times of upheaval and transition. The difference is that usually we allow it to unnerve us, fill us with fear and trepidation, we suffer because of it and in that suffering we feel very alone.
It’s hard to talk about how we suffer because we live in a society that preys on those who express emotional vulnerability, and so we keep it in and we feel isolated in our emotional experiences. Strangely, if we could muster the courage to share what we were feeling, especially the hard to express stuff, we would find that we are in good company. On a day like 9/11/01 there could be no doubt that we were all groundless together and in that state of global vulnerability, what we revealed was our true nature. There was no need to hide it any more, we found ourselves to be innately kind and loving beings.
When all our loved ones were accounted for, many people in my neighborhood gathered for the very first time at the local Rasta pet supply store where the owner Jennifer had miraculously come upon a box of abandoned day-old kittens. We bottle fed the kittens, connected, and built trust amongst ourselves. In the days and weeks that followed we returned there day after day to seek solace, healing, connection, and grounding once more. As the kittens struggled to live and eventually began to thrive, so did our hearts begin to mend. Through our trust in each other, former neighborhood strangers, we began to learn to trust humanity at large. We began to venture out of Brooklyn and into Manhattan, even crossing police barricades to return to work. Little by little our hearts stitched themselves back together. They were scarred, stretched, dilated, a little raw, but much more real.
And so it goes, our suffering connects us more than it divides us and we would do well to remember that. Anything that seeks to separate us is only trying to weaken us and make our wild hearts easier to control. If you are suffering, from trials large or small, simply reach out your heart and connect with all the beings experiencing the same kind of pain as you are feeling in that moment and you will find yourself in the loving arms of strangers. Pain may be an inevitable consequence of living, but suffering does not have to be. Our suffering naturally eases when we discover we are not alone. . . .