By Mat Tombers
This morning, driving down Trinity Place to where it blends
going past the empty hole which was once the Trade Center,
haunting images from those harrowing days in September. There
still closed Burger King with a sign spray painted on: Med
There is the vast hole that gets bigger, more empty every
day. Behind a
wooden wall, it looks like they are starting to repair the
Brooks Bros. store. Century 21 has re-opened but it is not
as busy as
it was but it is open and their red and white bags can be
floating through the subways.
We are moving away from September 11th in time and also,
psychologically. The feel of the city is different from before
but there is now a consistent rhythm and mental energy level
encompasses those events.
But on an individual basis, one day at a time, one person
at a time,
there are internal conversations going on about what this
Those internal conversations are not unique to the citizens
of New York
and its environs. It is part of the national internal dialogue
by many citizens and residents of this country.
Last week, I spoke to an old friend who has been laboring
mightily at a
broadband enterprise and she has just now been laid off, an
event she is
greeting with relief rather than despair. After two years
days and nights, attempting to make technology work, she has
ax. In speaking with her, she told me that she wants to step
is, in fact, eager to step back and take a look at her life
choices she might make going forward.
It has, she said, something to do with 9/11. Questions that
day for many of us have not gone away. Is this the best way
to spend my
life? Our lives? Now that she is forced out of where she was,
going to embrace the change because that question has gnawed
on her: is
this how I should be spending my life?
It is a question I know lives just beneath the surface for
everyone I know. When I asked Cheryl, who works with me, about
agreed, though not for herself. For her, the questions began
asked when she decided to leave her position as Head Film
Hoyt's in Latin America, based in Buenos Aires.
Her questions came because she was faced with making a decision.
Andrew, her partner, now husband, had been offered a position
the states - and in making the decision to return she asked
the kinds of questions I hear my friends asking themselves
now. How do
I want to lead my life? What qualities do I want it to have?
This was particularly true in the days and weeks just following
I am finding it still important - perhaps more important -
than it was.
And it is that way because the question is not going away.
friends admitted to me that while they asked themselves the
they assumed that the questioning drumbeat in their brain
with the pile of rubble.
But it hasn't. Not for them. Not for me. I ask myself, almost
if this is what I should be doing with my life. Is there something
more? Are there some good deeds I should be pursuing? Is there
impact I can be making that I am not making? Is there a kindness
desire to do that I have not done?
A lawyer friend talks seriously of stepping away from her
going back into the Peace Corps. Another friend has joined
Other friends are thinking of leaving New York, for some simpler
One set of friends is hurrying the rebuild of their country
that they can be sure of a retreat.
Friends sit and ponder over drinks and dinner about their
lives and the
value they are both giving and receiving from the world they
We talk and speculate and I see changes beginning. I will
more changes as I move through the weeks and months ahead,
want to do some good while doing well for myself. It is that
has caused me to raise my hand and volunteer for an AIDS agency
be on the advisory committee for a college.
All around me I see and hear people wrestling with their
wanting to live a better life than they did before 9/11, a
life of some
greater meaning. And I know that many of my friends want deeply
their lives to count for more than bank accounts, with time
family and friends that was not taken before, with thought
quality as well as quantity.
It will be interesting to see where I go next in myself and
friends go. Where will you go?