|image from: steeljawscribe.com|
On the 10th anniversary of the most devastating terrorist act in my lifetime, I will be participating in a sprint triathlon. It's called the American Memorial Triathlon, a title which annoys me a bit with its commercial stink. In all honesty, the date of the event is a significant factor in why I am registered for an athletic activity which frankly, kind of scares me. How can I complain about being afraid to swim .5 miles in a lake I grew up swimming in, when ten years prior firefighters and police officers willingly entered an inferno in an attempt to save the lives of thousands of strangers? Fear? I'll be swimming to remember and honor their selfless bravery and a million miles in shark infested waters would never do them justice.
I have pictures in my head that I will always retain - images I don't ever want to forget because they remind me of how life can change in an instant. I never imagined that pain and fear and horror could visit our world on a glorious day with the sky a shade of blue that should only be experienced while lying on one's back in a field of late summer asters with your beloved at your side. No, for the sky to have been a reflection of the events of that day, there should have been howling winds and menacing clouds that compelled one to seek shelter and hide from what was to come. As my tires spin while I pedal the around the shore of Greenwood Lake, I'll remember that the world will continue to turn, no matter the weather or the color of the sky, and I will be inspired by those who know that a blue sky does not guarantee security.
It isn't always immediately clear in life whether one is running towards or away from something. On that September morning, both happened. I met a firefighter in 2002 at my favorite Irish Pub in New York City, the Dublin House. He told me, over a pint, that he had been off duty that Tuesday morning when our nation's innocence disappeared in multiple balls of flame. Despite not being obligated to respond to the situation in Manhattan, without hesitation, he jumped in his car pausing only to visit his daughter at school for a kiss, and drove as fast as he could towards the disaster from which thousands were fleeing. This Sunday, September 11, 2011, I'm going to run away from doubts and being afraid of how my body may not be prepared for a task I've never before encountered and keep my eyes and heart and mind instead upon the finish line. And when I finally complete this triathlon, I guarantee you, there will be tears and a pint raised. The tears will be shed in appreciation of the efforts of my body, yes, but more than that they will be in honor of who and what we have collectively lost since that morning a decade ago. As will that pint.