The second installment of a series from Peter Clothier’s book:
SEPTEMBER 11: Despair, and Why It Matters to Carry On
On September 11th, 2001 an alarm clock rang at 5:00 am Pacific time. I had class in San Francisco and living in Concord made the commute tortuous. First, I would drive with my husband to the Rockridge station and take the train into San Francisco. Get off BART and take two bus transfers to get to a 8:30 am class with 5 minutes to spare. Not to mention, having to lug around huge wet oil canvases and supplies. Everyone on public transportation would give me the dirty look of “don’t wreck my nice clothes with your ugly art.” But that day was different.
As we got ready in the morning, the television news blaring was part of the routine. Charles Gibson interrupted regular programming to show that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. At 6:37 am, I watched the second plane hit and by Gibson’s reaction it was clear this was no accident. I looked directly at my husband and said “…we are going to war.”
Clothier: “I found myself thinking about paper-that image of paper falling from the smoke- and debris- blackened sky in a slow, white, eerie snowstorm. It occurred to me that I have always had a special relationship with the most ordinary of cultural necessities…It has been, to put it simply, my stock-in-trade.” September 11th made everyone stop and reflect on his or her own mortality.
“It matters that I honor this very moment by being conscious of it, by not letting it slip away unnoticed.”
How selfish was I in the past to think my commute was long and tedious? From that day on, it didn’t matter.
PRACTICE: Breathing Mindfully
A type “A” personality like myself finds it difficult to breathe. Am I afraid? Expectations and/or excuses seem to get in the way of slowing down. “Bring your attention to your breath” is a simple and profound statement.
“Now watch the whole body breathe, as one, as if it were a single giant lung, rising and falling with each breath.”
Imagine a world if we all practiced breathing mindfully…