The Breathtaking Fragility of the Physical

Like everyone else, I’m spending the day remembering. We all have stories. We all have memories. I won’t even begin to compare mine to those who lost their lives, their loved ones, their co-workers, their friends on that day. And while I have my own story, what always comes to the front of my mind is someone else’s story. I haven’t named him because I don’t know that he wishes to be named, but suffice it to say, he is an irreplaceable part of my life and the lives of so many others that it is without comprehension just how grateful I am that the story ends the way it does. I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing with the few of you who will read this.

On the night of September 10th, as he sat in his hotel room in downtown Manhattan, my person was tired from a day of meetings, probably going over notes for the next full day of them. As he gazed out the window, he considered the beauty of New York City. And it truly is breathtaking. All of the tall buildings stretched out to the sky, built by the hands of men, yet as impressive as the mountains themselves. In the distance, he saw the tallest two – the World Trade Center – and took in the majesty of those structures. As he paused from his work to admire the wonders of the city, the greatness of his surroundings, he was overwhelmed with the beauty before him. How impressive it was. 

At this point, realizing that the person he wished most to share this with was back at home, he made a decision. He packed his things and decided to head back to her that night. As he did so, he called up his morning meeting and they instead had the conversation over the phone. With nothing keeping him in New York, he headed to Penn Station and left the city. 

Instead of arriving to his 8:00 am breakfast meeting at Windows of the World, top of Tower One of the World Trade Center, my person arrived home to his wife. 

I don’t know why my person was spared while others perished that morning. Certainly he wouldn’t claim to be better than anyone who died. And while I am nothing but thankful for his life, I can’t help but think of just how precariously placed we all are. Skyscraper or human, that which has taken decades to create and fashion into our design can be struck down in a matter of moments or spared by a seemingly insignificant decision.

Would that we lived our lives remembering that.


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