The word of the last two months to be sure. I remember a recent Toastmasters meeting where a question was posed to me.
“Are you living your life any different after September 11th?”
Before September 11th, my only thoughts were entirely selfish. I was wondering how I was going to enjoy my 32nd birthday on the 25th and if it was going to be any better then last year.
I was also upset about quite a lot of things that I thought were the weight of the world.
I never watch the news, I don't even have cable. Life is not meant to be lived sitting by the television.
So there I was, blissfully unaware of what transpired at 9am EST typing away on my computer trying to figure out the latest story arc for a role-playing email game on September 11th and even by 11am I still had no idea. Then an email from one of the other folks on the list came through and I'll never forget the subject header.
It simply said, Terrorism.
Then I clicked on the email and opened it and it stated what happened.
My mind did not want to believe it as I thought this was some kind of - I did not know what to think.
I remembered what a successful businessman named Steve Woods once said regarding the news. Steve said, “If it gets bad enough, someone will tell you.” It got bad enough and someone had told me.
There I was, mister motormouth, staring at the screen throughout the day when I should have been asleep, since I work nightshift.
And at work, my co-worker and I listened to talkradio as callers expressed their feelings at the horror that had happened earlier that day.
I was just one more American in total shock.
Then next afternoon Toastmaster meeting near Town and Country, we tried hard to carry on. Same with the meeting in Land O' Lakes at night. The pledge of alligence took on a whole new tone, this time with more passion I had ever heard before.
September 11th also helped my put a fear into perspective. For the longest time, there was one job in Toastmasters that I had been avoiding for a myriad of reasons. Then I found myself presented with the chance to take it, due to unforseen circumstances, and I took it...thinking beyond my own fears and thinking instead of the organization. Since September 11th, I have thought of more then just myself and battled with my self-pity to focus on what good I can do, not what problems I can complain about.
It's still a hard battle to fight but it's clearer to me.
As Billy Joel sings, “I may have not the answers yet but I'm getting closer, getting close.”
I placed an American flag sticker on my rear window and wear lapel pins which say by the red, white and blue, that I am an American - count me in...I'm on the team.
If I can spread humor and encouragement and cast some rays of light through these darkened times, then I can help in some small way to with the fight against the darkenss.
So it may not look like on the outside that I'm living my life diffferently after September 11th 2001 but inside, I am. The wheels are turning in a whole different way.
I know I still have my inner private battles to wage and win.
I know I have my shortcomings and weaknesses to conquor.
I know I am worthy.
Let us all go forth from this with a renewed sense to come together and extend a helping hand. Let us be tolerant of ourselves and others more.
Let us never forget the wake up we recieved last month and let us think about tomorrow with hope and love, not fear.
Let us not be cycnical.
Embrace optimism and defy being average.
To quote my own poem, “Let's carry on the fight, in times of darkness, be the bright.”
Joel Maurice Verlin, October 2001.