Sitting in the emergency department on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, hooked up to a heart monitoring machine, I’m passing my time nervously by reading the last chapter of the book ‘Miracles and Fate on 78th,’ by Ari Schonbrun. A survivor of September 11 himself, Ari worked on the 101st floor of the North World Trade Centre. On that horrific and unforgettable Tuesday morning, Ari was on the 78th floor at 8:46am when the first plane attacked. He lost 658 of his co-workers that day. The constant beeping and tangled cords of my heart monitor now somehow feel quite insignificant.
(September 11 Memorial Site, Financial District Manhattan, New York).
He writes about a story. A teacher asks the students of her class to list what they believe are the Seven Wonders of the World. The kids form their lists with the likes of the Taj Mahal, Egypt’s Pyramids and The Great Wall of China amongst others. One girl hasn’t handed in her paper. She tells the teacher she couldn’t decide. The teacher asks her to read her list aloud and the class may be able to help her. The young girl picks up her paper, pauses then reads aloud in a soft voice “to touch, to taste, to see, to hear, to feel, to laugh and to love.” The class were speechless. Ari puts it best, ‘those things we overlook as simple and ‘ordinary’ are truly wondrous’ (p166).
(Paper cranes – a sign of hope, sent from Japan. Hung at 9 11 Tribute Centre)
Our health is everything. To be blessed with the gift of living a healthy life, blessed with the gift of sight and our other remarkable senses, to experience love and happiness is an absolute blessing, each and everyday. Not to be taken lightly. It’s imperative that we cherish these gifts, that we share them and use them to fulfil each other, each and every day. For all of those people who suffered an ill and horrific fate on September 11, for the Australian Cricketer Phil Hughs who passed away so tragically days ago literally due to the bounce of a ball and for all those who have passed so suddenly, it’s utmost important that we spend our time wisely, for them, each and everyday. Life is precious and everything has the ability to change in a split second. Make the most of your time with family and friends, enjoy spending your time doing activities you enjoy and don’t put things off until tomorrow. For tomorrow we are unaware of what lies ahead. Be proactive and live for today. This leaves you with no regrets of things you did or didn’t do or changes that you may have made.
(Missing Persons Posters displayed on wall on 9 11 Tribute Centre).
I feel I also have to share another story Ari writes of. A wealthy man drives down an ordinary neighbourhood street in his new Jaguar. His car is struck with a brick. He immediately breaks, pulls up beside the curve and jumps out from his car, looking for the culprit. He grabs the kid around the neck who is hiding between two parked cars and begins yelling at him. The kid apologises, tears streaming down his face and he points. He explains to the infuriated man that his brother rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair. He is unable to lift him on his own and the brother is hurt. He begs the man to help him lift his brother back into his wheelchair so he can get him home. The man helps the upset boy lift the handicapped child back into the chair then cleans the boy’s wounds. Shocked, the man vowed to leave the dint in his brand new jaguar as a constant reminder to himself that life should never get so overwhelmingly busy that someone has to to throw a brick at you just to get your attention.
(Tribute to New York Firefighters of the past present and future at World Trade Centre Site)
Ari writes ‘we have to wake up and realise that our world is so much bigger than our careers, our houses, our cars and even ourselves’ (p179). Doing things in the same manner day after day, complaining of unhappiness and that nothing changes, is setting yourself up to fail. We are the ones who are blessed to have a chance here today. We are the ones who are in control of our journeys. We are the ones who can choose to live happily, help those around us and seek peace in our lives.
I close the book, look back at my heart monitor and I know that everything is going to be ok. I feel inspired. I feel determined. I know now that maybe this is the brick that I’ve been thrown to awaken me to the simplicity of life. Put me back on my path of happiness that I’ve been struggling to see since returning home from my last travel adventures. I’m thankful to stumble across such a powerful book and urge anyone wanting a very inspiring read, to read this truly amazing story.