It’s September 11. This day always makes me pause.
Yesterday I saw the Facebook status of a friend that said, If you want to live a skyscraper life, you must have a foundation that goes way beneath the ground.
That made me pause too. I looked at those words again and again. They pricked at me for reasons I couldn’t pinpoint.
In 2002 I visited lower Manhattan with some friends. I thought the biggest impression would be made by standing and looking out over what, in a matter of hours, became an unthinkable mass grave. Death is difficult to process in and of itself, and even more so within the confines of such a dense cityscape.
The massiveness made its impression, yes, but what sideswiped me even more were the city block size holes left in the ground where the Twin Towers had stood.
I remember standing there, trying to force the wheels in my brain to go around faster so I could understand. I’d only ever seen the twin structures on a television screen or from the outdoor deck of the Empire State Building.
I’d never once considered what might be beneath them, deep under the surface of the city. If you want to live a skyscraper life, you must have a foundation that goes way beneath the ground.
Today, in the pause, this idea has a prickly resonance. I see how when I am most easily toppled, it’s because I’ve not built a strong foundation.
Society trains us to value the glitz and the glamour, the overt and the flashy, the shiny glass and the impenetrable steel. That seems like putting the skyscraper before the foundation.
Today, something new is stirring in the pause. It’s a quiet certainty that while I am still alive, I serve humanity best by tending faithfully to my own personal foundations. I’m okay with setting aside my skyscraper motivations for the more important, beneath the surface work that must come first.
I’ve found myself on my knees enough to know this is the better way. Time and experience are wise teachers, and from them I've learned I am most vulnerable in the places where I seek to be elevated, and therefor am furthest from what stably grounds me.
In honor of the beautiful souls who never made it home thirteen years ago today, humbly, I commit to pay better attention to what's beneath my life's ground.