It was a sunny, gorgeous September day. I was happily settled in my office writing my weekly newspaper column. Suddenly, I became distracted by the image of a smoking World Trade Center Tower on a nearby television. Suddenly, what had been a humorous op-ed piece on life turned into a reflection of the unfolding 9.11 tragedy that immeasurably changed our lives.
Like all of us interconnected through the World Wide Web, I get a lot of e-mails. In fact everyday I sort through a host of funny pictures, ribald jokes, and forwarded chain letters that I read, enjoy, and summarily delete.
However, every once in a while I receive an e-mail of significance—a collection of words important enough to compel me to share them with my cyberspace amalgamation of family and friends. Which is exactly what happened on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001.
A friend of mine sent along a most thought provoking e-mail, which she entitled, ironically, “Some Thoughts for a Happy Day.” The theme of the composition focused on the need to “seize the moment and live life to the fullest.”
I read the essay and re-read it, in so doing realizing the electronic transmission perfectly matched my own personal life philosophy. Further, the words provided me with a valuable reminder that life is short, we all need to play hard and enjoy. So, I decided to tap into my lengthy list of e-mail addresses and forward the worthy correspondence to family and friends. In the process I re-titled it, “Life as it Should be Lived.”
In one of those serendipitous life moments, as I hit my computers “send” button and put my group mailing on its merry way, the phone rang. It was my husband urging me to turn on the television.
Within moments, my mind was reeling as I watched the incredulous turn of events play out in New York, Washington, and across a grassy field in Pennsylvania. Conflicting emotions of fear, anger, sorrow, and compassion pulsed through my body, while the relentless journalist’s queries of who, what, when, where and why tortured my writer’s brain.
The last time I visited the Big Apple I went to the World Trade Center. I sat at the restaurant in the rooftop Windows on the World Restaurant and felt as if I was, truly, sitting on top of the world. It was a memorable evening that is forever captured in a group picture I have hanging on my office wall. Yet on that sunny September day, in a matter of moments, that picture and the people in it were all that remained of that magical evening.
Moving my glance from that celebratory photo to the devastating reality unfolding before me on TV, I felt suddenly isolated. I wanted, no needed, to reach out and touch another human being… to assure myself that no matter how shattering this incomprehensible event might be, my family and my friends were still alive and well; that my sense of normalcy was somehow going to survive.
At about that same moment, e-mail messages began filling my inbox, all referencing the same subject—“Life as It Should Be Lived.” The senders names reflected many of the family and friends to whom I had written, only moments earlier. As I opened their letters a flood of grief and fear filled my computer screen, along with phrases that spoke of the value of family, the importance of friendship.
At the same time, my phone began ringing… my husband, my daughter, my sister-in-law, my friends, fellow writers. People from New York to California, calling one after another, all responding to the same need to reach out and ensure the stability of their lives. We talked until our senses and sensibilities were somewhat soothed, then said loving good-byes, promising to talk more often and get together soon.
As I refocused on the day’s terrible events unfolding, I once more returned to the e-mail that had so innocently started my morning. I read it yet again, this time with a new focus and understanding, lingering over the final line that read, “If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call, what would you say and why are you waiting?”
For the countless numbers in those four airplanes, three office buildings and random city streets, that question is now irrelevant. For the rest of us, perhaps of greater import than the question is how we shall decide to answer.
As published in Chicken Soup For The Soul of America. Written by Christina M. Abt
Why Are You Waiting? Author unknown
I have a friend who lives by a three-word philosophy: “Seize the moment.”
Just possibly, she may be the wisest womanon this planet.
Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they
haven’t thought about it, don’t have it on their schedule, didn’t know it was
coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up
dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I’ve
tried to be a little more flexible.
How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn’t suggest
going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word
“refrigeration” mean nothing to you?
How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched
Jeopardy! on television? I cannot count the times I called my sister and said,
“How about going to lunch in a half hour?” She would gasp and stammer, “I
can’t. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday,
I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain. And my personal favorite: -”It’s Monday”.
She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.
Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches.
We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect:
We’ll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Stevie toilet-trained. We’ll entertain-
when we replace the living-room carpet. We’ll go on a second honeymoon when we get two
more kids out of college.
Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to
ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is
a litany of “I’m going to,” “I plan on” and “Someday, when things are settled down a bit.”
When anyone calls my ‘seize the moment’ friend, she is open to adventure and available for
trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk
with her for five minutes and you’re ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of rollerblades
and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.
My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It’s just that I might as well
apply it directly to my hips with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day,
I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home,
I would have died happy.
Now…go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to..not something on your
SHOULD DO list.
If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would
you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting