By Susan V Lacerra
InspiredStrategies, Sept. 11, 2015
Today is a day of remembrance, and of honoring, and of forgiveness, and of moving forward.
Moving forward from where?
If you were alive on September 11, 2001, at almost any age, you will remember.
Do you know what I remember?
My mom calling me on the phone.
And knowing that the world had completely changed.
And I had no idea how the world had changed, or what that change would be, or when that change would happen, or even why…. Because the simple truth of what had happened seemed inconceivable. The tallest buildings, in our most major city, fell down?
It was unbelievable. The feeling was surreal.
Until we turned on the television, and there it was, in full color.
I had grown up being told, and deeply feeling, that our country is a Beacon for all people.
IS THIS STILL TRUE?
Doesn’t it say so, on the Statue of Liberty?
“Give me your tired, and your poor
Your huddled masses…. Yearning to BREATHE FREE….
I lift my lamp beside the GOLDEN DOOR.” ~ Emma Lazarus
My dad had told me that our country was a LIGHT for others, over and over, in describing why he wanted to come to this country, and why he made the long journey on a ship, alone, across the Atlantic, as a teen, to this mystical land….. America.
He was filled with HOPE.
He KNEW his DREAMS Mattered.
He KNEW that this was the place where they COULD COME TRUE.
When my dad arrived here, decades ago, he had NO IDEA how to make that happen.
He just knew that he would.
Because he knew that he could.
He could do it…. Because he was in America.
Where the “streets were paved with gold”.
I heard this so many times, growing up.
And I guess that my dad’s attitude, made me feel like I could DO ANYTHING.
That there were no barriers, that there were no obstacles that could not be OVERCOME.
That simply applying myself to my dream, made its realization possible.
FOR EVERYONE WHO LIVED HERE.
Sometimes we forget the strength of our personal power.
THAT ONE PERSON CAN CHANGE THE WORLD, for the better.
And that when that person changes the world, it is almost always because they pursued a passion, inexplicably, that came from within.
That caused them to stand up for their community.
That caused them to speak out for those around them.
That caused them to start up something they care about.
That came from within and that they pursued WITHOUT STOPPING, DESPITE FAILURE, BECAUSE IT IS THEIR MISSION, BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONES WHO CAN.
You know, you can see something in the photos of people from that day in New York City.
Suddenly, all of the rules that govern what’s okay, who you talk to, how you act, were suddenly, just gone.
And, in terrible tragedy, a lot of regular people turned into heroes.
This is leadership in its most unassuming quality.
Leading by doing.
By how you behave.
When One Person, with a passionate idea, or vision, changes the world, usually, they have a TEAM.
Yes, ONE PERSON can change the world.
BUT INEVITABLY, we do this TOGETHER.
Because we MUTUALLY AGREE TO DO SO.
In the moment, we may not see that we are agreeing with a large group of people to take an action, one that can become a movement.
But we do, and it’s because THAT ONE PERSON invigorates a COMMUNITY.
And she or he calls that special community to herself or himself THROUGH THE SIMPLE ACT OF BEING who they are.
OF SPEAKING THEIR DREAM.
And that shared PASSION, IGNITES THE CHANGES.
We do this TOGETHER.
Because, you know, for example, TWITTER wouldn’t work if there was only one tweeter.
But one person had the IDEA, that created TWITTER, that has CHANGED THE WORLD.
With the other Tweet-tees.
Do you know what struck me, about September 11, after I had the long view, after the shock had passed….
Yes it took years.
It took years for all of us.
It took YEARS to stop feeling so angry.
It took YEARS to stop feeling dismay.
Why did it feel so personal?
What I remember most about that day is MY RELATIONSHIPS and WHAT I DID WITH AND FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
After my mother’s phone call, I went and spent two hours with my husband, before turning on the news or speaking to anyone.
Because we knew the world had changed.
And because we wanted to remember the old world we had known, pushing away the shock, for just a few minutes longer.
Because the fact that someone had attacked the United States, the most powerful country in the world at that time, just did not seem possible.
Our behavior was an act of simple desperation.
Of trying to control what was not controllable.
Actually, first, though, I called my brother-in-law, to tell him to get out of the city…. Because no one knew what was going to happen…. Next.
Two hours later our friends came over, with their young 5 year old son, just so we could watch the news together.
Because, who wanted to be alone that day?
Sharing the grief was easier.
And their boy ran in the door and said, “the buildings fell down!”
And my heart fell.
Because I never wanted to see a child have to experience that fear, of that trauma.
And because so many still do.
And that was our day, in the moment.
It was shock, and not knowing.
Not really being able to help, or to do, anything.
Taking refuge with family, and friends.
Sharing our time, our experience, together.
Today, in my personal consulting to individuals, I have a module that I call:
“The I’m Possible Dream.”
Because it turns out that impossible actually means that!!!! Just look at the word!
And I use this with people who feel lost, or broken, INSIDE.
For PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST THEIR WAY.
Kind of like, it seems sometimes, kind of like OUR COUNTRY after 9-11.
Kind of like our people.
Kind of like HUMANITY.
I feel, that as a people,
WE NEED TO KNOW THAT WE ARE STILL POSSIBLE.
THAT OUR LIGHT CAN STILL LIGHT THE WAY.
THAT OUR NATION IS CALLED BACK TO ITS DESTINY.
THAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP
…..BECAUSE WE ARE THE LAMP.
We carry the LIT FLAME WITHIN.
And, actually, that this is true.
For Every One of us.
On the PLANET.
That EVERY HUMAN BEING can LIFT the LIGHT of their LAMPS HIGH.
I know this to be true because my heart wells up and inexplicably, from within, I know this to be possible.
When the photos OF NEW YORK CITY came out the next day, after September 11, 2001, and the next day, and the next, do you know what stood out to me, THE MOST?
What struck me the most, in a positive and awe-filled way, on 9-11 was, PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE.
They are leaning on one another.
They are supporting one another walking.
They are carrying each other.
They are PEACEFULLY walking together OUT OF THE CITY.
THEY ARE SHARING THEIR PAIN.
THEY ARE SHARING THEIR ANGUISH.
People of ALL RACES, OF ALL RELIGIONS, OF ALL GENDERS, OF ALL NATIONALITIES, are TOGETHER.
IT WAS A TRIUMPH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT.
I know this because I kept every magazine that I could get my hands on, that week, with the photos of all the people and the tragedy of that day.
Because I wanted, TO REMEMBER.
And because I sat, like so many of us did, and looked at their pictures,
And imagined their pain,
And felt for them,
And loved for them,
And prayed for them,
And cried for them,
And cried for US ALL.
When I did this, I cared about them AS PEOPLE.
I cared about their PAIN.
I wished for their HIGHEST GOOD.
I wished for them to be HELD IN GOD’S HAND ~ whatever his or her name is.
When I have looked at the photos of the PEOPLE OF NEW YORK of that day, September 11, 2001, I have always been FILLED WITH AWE,
FILLED WITH PRIDE,
FILLED WITH AMAZEMENT,
FILLED WITH OVERFLOWING LOVE in my heart.
They lived through AN INCREDIBLE TRAGEDY.
AND THEY EXCELLED AT HUMAN SPIRIT.
THEY EXCELLED AT PERSERVING.
THEY LIVED THROUGH HEARTBREAK OF THE MOST EXTREME KIND.
When I visited New York City, for my work, a couple of years after, I was struck by something.
One day, talking to a New Yorker, I suddenly knew.
I knew that almost every person that I was around, that day, had lived through 9-11. When the awareness hit me, I was in awe of the everyday people around me.
And suddenly, I could see the recognition in their eyes.
THEY KNEW THAT I KNEW.
And in that moment, I SAW THEM AS ONE.
It is hard to put words around what I felt, but there was a triumph, there was the sadness, there were emotions that I don’t even have a name for.
AND THERE WAS PRIDE.
There was INDOMITABLE SPIRIT.
For me, if we can look at it this way, THIS IS THE GIFT that we are LEFT WITH.
The KNOWING of this, PURITY OF SPIRIT, that CAN EXCEL beyond ANY TRAGEDY, that can SHOW LOVE in the utmost challenging of times.
Let’s remember, together, that I AM POSSIBLE.
And SO ARE YOU.
That PEACE IS POSSIBLE.
That HOPE PREVAILS.
That we are ALL, ONE HUMAN RACE ~
Of INDOMITABLE SPIRIT.
© 2015 Susan V. Lacerra, Inspired Strategies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.