Looking back on the decade
It is 11 September 2011, the ten year anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11. Many people have spoken and created many moving eulogies to those who died on that day. I’ve also heard of interviews with survivors, including one man who was among the only four who survived despite being above the 100th floor of the Twin Towers. I found his words (as related to me by the friend who heard the actual interview) fascinating: he chose not to let his life be defined by that moment, and instead went on to live. Looking back on the past decade, his life since then had not been anything dramatic — he’d not cured cancer or traveled around the globe or anything similar. He had, however, lived what he felt was a good life.
That got me to thinking: if we look back on the last decade of our lives, can we say we have lived well and fully? Have we tried, in whatever small ways we can, to make the world a better place? Do we feel we are better people now?
Sitting there with my friend over lunch, we did so: we looked back at our lives and considered. At that time I had just graduated with my major in Anthropology and minor in Sociology; soon after that I started my own business, which taught me many wonderful things that enriched my life. I also earned my master’s in Women’s Spirituality, and I am currently working on my PhD. I’ve tried to share much of the learning about life which I’ve experienced; it’s not always a delightful process, but I find if I take the time to really look, I can see and learn from the positive aspects of most of my life experiences. I am incredibly fortunate in having, at this time, close friends and family, a healthy body, a warmly supportive environment, being financially stable, and working in a field I love.
I’ve also tried to re-create myself as a better person; in a sense, I have remade myself more than once in this past decade, and I know I am a more patient and compassionate person now. I also feel I know myself more deeply than I ever have before — although I will amusedly note I’ve always felt that way just before every major increase of self-knowledge which I’ve experienced. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the process of doing these things, I’ve also tried to decrease my destructive footprint on the environment, and to be healthier in the process. I’m quite pleased with how that is going, but then exercise by choice has always been enjoyable for me.
Curiously, as my friend and I reviewed the past decade to each other, we discovered both of us had a slightly rosier view of the other’s life. That turned out well, since that meant we both ended up a little more happy with ourselves when reminded of those instances. I found the mental experiment oddly reassuring — both in that I was indeed trying to live my best, and that I was still working on those areas of my life where I yet feel somewhat incomplete. It was a fascinating thought review, one I suggest trying if you have a moment and a close friend you can chat with. If you wish, share your results in the Comments section as well… and may you too live well and richly for the next decade, and more.
Here are two more links of interest. Check out this one first:
A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe by Chris Hedges
Then follow it up with this, which I found far more deeply inspiring than angry & fearful calls for revenge:
A Declaration of Interdependence
While I’m not happy about it, I’m afraid I have to agree with you concerning our country’s effectively heading the way the terrorists wanted in the last decade. We were a freer people a decade ago; now we accept yet more authoritarianism simply for the sake of authority, rather than for any real purpose helpful to the people. I do not think we should forget the past — I have no desire to repeat it — but a remembrance tinged with anger, fear, and lust for revenge will not bring us back to greater freedom. You might find the following free on-line book interesting, considering your thoughts: The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer, found at: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/
That being said, it sounds like your decade too went well. May you have many more such wonderful years! :)
I’ve been rather outspokenly, if somewhat unpopularly, saying that commemorating the attacks only aids the terrorist’s goals, and the bastards in our government who have skillfully capitalized on them, but this is a fine way to remember. I was half-way through my Masters program at FAU in 2001, and while there are some areas I wouldn’t mind being a bit more successful in now(mostly financial) I can say that my students love me, I have a wonderful wife, step-daughter, and a beautiful brand new baby girl. My cats are fat and happy, and I have neither a colostomy nor dialysis. Yeah, life’s not bad. :-)