On this 15th anniversary of 9/11, my mind has been wandering back to where I was when I first heard about the attacks. I remember that I was driving to work in San Rafael California. I remember the shock and the cloud of disbelief that followed me around that day. I’m sure many of you can remember the details of your day 15 years ago.
As my day has moved into the afternoon, I am struck by how much my mind has wandered back to the past. I’ve been reliving that day and the sad days that followed over and over again. I have lived very little in the present moment today.
This reminds me of the aging process. It’s human nature to look ahead into our elder years. We think of the plans we need to make regarding financial security. We think of how things might unfold such as our social network, our health, and among other things… how we’ll want to spend our final years. Once we reach a certain age, it seems like every time we look in the mirror we are reminded of the aging process. We count another gray hair, or we notice more wrinkles on our face. It can be a small thing that we notice, but then in an instant we are taken away from the present moment and into the future.
Eckhart Tolle wrote, “Whenever you deeply accept this moment as it is – no matter what form it takes – you are still, you are at peace.” I love this quote for it reminds us that all we have is the present moment. Our minds habitually travel to the past and the future in an instant, but that takes us away from the beauty of our lives right now. Whether our present moment is dull, boring, stressful, panicked, lonely, sad, or heartbreaking it is still our life in this second of time.
Our minds are also habitually trained to move away from discomfort. We feel pain and we look for a different place to put our attention. Anywhere else but the pain, right? However, the way to inner peace lies in the strength to feel the discomfort, just for a moment, and then let it go. You will then find yourself better able to handle the stresses of life. We find inner peace by embracing all of life… the joy and the pain. We find the strength to persevere through tragedy like 9/11. Anne Frank wrote, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.”