On September 11th, two planes took off from Boston’s Logan airport. I was there that morning, and completely ignorant and blissful, I boarded another plane headed to a scheduled layover in Philly, and then on to Aruba, for my honeymoon.
Needless to say, I didn’t make it to my honeymoon destination. But I went to sleep that night heartbroken at the loss we all experienced, and thankful to be alive.
My mother called me after the bombings on Monday, and couldn’t reach me. When I learned about the events of that day, I knew she’d be in a panic.
When she answered my call, almost the first words out of her mouth were “I can’t do this again!”
Meaning, she couldn’t wait in horror as her imagination played with her and she thought of the worst.
Meaning that she’d lost years off her life the first time she was afraid I was dead from an attack planned by someone full of hate.
Meaning she couldn’t watch as the world tore itself to bits.
Thankfully, I was nowhere near the bombs as they ripped apart the city streets, broke storefront windows, and shattered the lives and families of people in the city I love.
I was safe in my home in Natick, a comfortable twenty miles west, when the horror occurred. And though I was safe physically, like all of you I was injured psychically.
From any situation, good or bad, there are things we can learn. And we must, because if we don’t, the events will have no silver lining at all.
Here are three things you can learn about life from the Boston Marathon bombings, or any act of violence.
You’re surrounded by (mostly) good people. Even before anyone really knew what was happening, people rushed toward danger to see if they could help. People ran to give blood, offered places to stay to those with no where to go, and I’m sure countless other little but powerful acts of kindness.
An act of terrorism brings people suddenly, forcefully, to the understanding that we are all connected and that we need to help and watch out for each other. That truth exists all the time, but it seems that trauma – whether a collective one like the bombings, or an individual one like a serious illness makes us instantly aware of this essential fact.
When you go about your regular life again, whether it’s tomorrow or in a few years, don’t lose this truth. Don’t let the mundane nature of daily living rob you of the understanding of how close we all live to the edge. Don’t let it fool you into thinking that you’re disconnected from those around you, and don’t let it create the illusion that what you do to make a difference in other’s lives is insignificant.
Now really is the time. If you’ve read any of the other posts on this blog, you’ll know that I am all about helping you make a living from your passions. I work with people (just like you) who, for whatever reason, have decided that they have had enough with living without passion or joy, but they don’t quite know how to make that transition (or maybe they don’t even know what it is they love yet).
But the one thing they have in common is that they have decided that they are no longer content to put off their happiness until a later date. They recognize that happiness happens right now, and that the pursuit of something they want (as well as achieving what they want) will make them happier.
An event like the bombings in Boston is enough to put this truth right in our face. We need to do what we love today. Not after we retire. Not when the kids are moved out. Not even after the economy gets better. No, life is too short, and sometimes unpredictable – so you’d better do what you love, right now.
The world needs you. We usually walk around with our heads down, minding our own business. We do what we have to do, go to jobs that we have to go to, and then go home, and do it all again the next day.
Sure, you have parts of your life that you love, but can you really say you’re living to your full potential? Are you letting your light really shine?
At the risk of getting too cheesy, let me tell you what I really believe about this. I believe that when we let our lights truly shine – when we let the world see what we’re most passionate about, when we do what we love – we finally go through the world with our eyes open. We’re connected to our own lives in a way we weren’t before, and we’re connected to a mission – to bring our passion to the world – in a way that didn’t exist before.
When you bring this light to the world, it stomps out the darkness.
I don’t know exactly how this happens.
Maybe you help a young person who might have grown up to feel like an outcast, maybe you create an opportunity for someone who never had any, maybe you give someone hope that felt hopeless, maybe you take away just a little bit of fear in the world.
Maybe a thousand, thousand other maybes. . .
But whatever light you bring, you’re doing your part to improve the world. And right now, we can all see the world needs improving.
The world needs you to do what you love.