Examining the fall of the twin towers on my own life over the last 10 years.
11.09.2011 - 11.09.2011 21 °C
Anniversaries drive reflection. And this is a big one. Ten years ago I was sitting in an office in Toronto when someone said to me "a plane has hit the World Trade Center is New York." As the day unfolded, I started to wonder in which direction my life was heading. Do I want to be at my desk, in a office tower, when it comes my time, I asked myself.
So, my life since September 11th has been quite different than before. Before September 11th, I was living in Toronto, trying to get up a corporate ladder and not taking many holidays at all. Since then, I have sacrificed work for travel, made sure I take all my holidays and looked at how I can mix a love of travel with a life of ... well, not starving to death and actually eating.
I can't claim that September 11th alone lead to this change. It was a catalyst, but September 11, 2001 was just another straw on the camel's back (or another brick in the wall, for the Pink Floyd fans). The big changes that September 11th was a part in feeding, at the time that the twin towers were falling, were still years away.
I experienced a series of events, from 1999 through to 2002 that all ended up changing my life more than any event since... well, probably my birth in 1970. It is hard to add them all up, or separate them out, but the events included turning thirty, bad jobs, failing romantic relationships, strained friendships and September 11th.
The most important event, though, was the death of my mother in 1999. It impacted my life, and continues to do, in ways I could not imagine when she passed away in the autumn of 1999. It was the start of a long, slow slide towards a low point in 2002. And so, in the early months of 2003, to try and recover my sanity and my happiness, I left my job, got on a flight and flew south to Chile.
It was all the start of a long march to where I am today, a 40 year old living in another country, with a reasonable but not overly impressive career, a vaguely decent pension fund and a year long lease on a flat - you know, in the event that something better comes up in South Africa or Hong Kong or Sao Paolo.
Ten years later for September 11th, 2001, the lesson I take away from that horrific day - and all the horrific days in life that came before - my mother's death - and after - work stress, health problems and burn-out in general from life - is that life is too short to stand by and wait for it to come to you. You have to reach out and find it for yourself. Sometimes it won't work out, and sometimes you will make awful mistakes, but at least you tried. Ten years on from September 11th, I am happy to find myself in a place I would never have thought I would be - in another country, on a different career path and just trying to find a way to make my life work.
To me, the best tribute to those that have come before is to live your life - as you want to live it - to the best of your ability.