I was preparing two crowns on a friend of mine that Tuesday morning when an assistant told us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Dismissed right out of hand by us as an accident, I remember my friend’s face going pale—his mother lived close to the Twin Towers—when we found out there were two planes with terrorists possibly involved. I later learned that she was unharmed, but it took her son a few excruciating hours to find this out while he watched the horrifying spectacle unfold.
A few days after, I took my two boys, then ages 8 and 5, to the park—son #3 was not due for another three weeks—and while they played on the monkey bars, I remember lying there on my back in the grass, looking up through the still-green leaves at a beautiful deep-blue sky and wondering, “How are our lives going to change now?” American attitudes have certainly changed, but I can’t say that it’s for the worse.
On any given day, our lives can change forever: A poor Tunisian sets himself on fire, starting a revolution; an earthquake causes instability in a nuclear reactor, resulting in meltdown; planes race across a NYC skyline to destroy its two tallest buildings, killing thousands of innocent people.
But we can’t let that force us to live our lives in fear—if we do that, we’re already dead. Better to live every day, regardless of the potential for destruction, as if it’s our last—with gratitude, and to the fullest.