As I woke to some unexpected quiet minutes to myself, I took a few to say hello to the world – first smiling quietly to myself. The cool sheets and soft mattress my body hadn’t yet unfolded from, the sunshine creeping through the blinds, the warmth of my son sleeping beside me, the squeaks and bangs of the morning shunting in the train yards those of us who live near Seattle’s Interbay know so well. My first formed thought: Today I will see my husband who has been in London for several days. I miss him and love him so very much. This will be a good day.
Taking the joy of my morning with me, I decided to say hello to the world on a larger scale and picked up my devices.
Oh, yes. I’d forgotten. It’s September 11. Email, Facebook, Twitter, radio, TV. Within the first half hour images of the Twin Towers and the beautiful memorial in lights that now stands in their place and, of course, the words “Never forget” and “We remember” followed me everywhere.
In our world where every story that wants to be told has a place, today’s posts and messages recount endless memories of that day. Amongst my friends and virtual connections I have several New Yorkers, journalists, police officers, Red Cross workers, and a few flight attendants. But even amongst the folks like me who weren’t more directly involved or intimately connected to the events of 9/11, the memories are vivid and the emotions still present for so many. Everyone knows exactly where they were and exactly how they felt. And many feel they should never, ever forget.
Maybe it’s time we forgot a bit.
It’s undeniable that the country – the world – shifted in a profound way that day. Our sense of security, stability and priorities were challenged and changed in ways that we may never completely understand. Many lost their lives or loved ones, both on that day and in the violence and wars that continue 12 years later.
The sacrifices and loss are seen. They are appreciated and honored. They are remembered.
But I have to wonder what good comes from remembering, even reliving, the fear and sadness of that day. Why do we as a country feel it is helpful to hang on to our individual and collective experiences, as if it would be disrespectful not to? As if we need to vividly remember everything that happened and everything we felt in order to ensure it never happens again.
Only when we are able to move beyond the pain of the past are we able to truly heal.
The shift happened. The lessons are still being learned. The effects are still being felt. But the vivid memories do not serve us anymore, and it’s time to move on.
We honor the sacrifices of the firefighters, the police officers, the airline staffs, the soldiers and the innocents more by allowing ourselves to find peace and move forward toward an abundant future unencumbered by our memories and all that we attach to them. By living fully in the present day, with hope for generations of peace, with love for all of our fellow human beings. By not continuing to turn our lingering anger and fear about the potential for another such attack into endless military actions that serve only to continue the worldwide cycle of anger and fear. By taking what we learned on that day and all the days since and using them to better the future and live with purpose and joy.
We don’t need to remember everything to do this.
Just imagine. Next year you could wake up and feel only the smile of a quiet morning and the anticipation of a good day. You check your devices and see the same messages of hope and laughter you see every day. You look at the calendar and remember the loving sacrifice of so many 13 years ago and smile or send up a prayer in gratitude for the strength and beauty of humanity to overcome adversity and selflessly help others. Then you go about your day. And it’s a good day.
Wouldn’t that be lovely?