Today we mark a terrible, somber anniversary.
We humans seem to naturally want to mark the passage of time in one-year increments — we celebrate anniversaries of weddings, births, new jobs and other happy occasions. We also mark anniversaries of sad and tragic things — deaths, losses, and shocking events.
For these anniversaries, we remember a variety of details: where we were, what we were doing, how we found out, who we were with. The smells, sounds, and sensations we experienced become part of the tapestry woven into our memories. The promise to remember both happy and horrifying memories is also part of the ritual.
Seventeen years ago today, I was sitting at my desk listening to music and working on Sunday Baroque when I heard the news that changed the world forever. I sat glued to the radio, called my loved ones, cried, and tried to mentally process the inconceivable, shocking reality of that day. And I listened to music. Today I’m hearing about how many friends and colleagues are recalling that day — sharing where they were, what they did, and how they are holding the day and the anniversary in their hearts today.
One thing about marking anniversaries is the shifting perception of the passage of time. In some ways, September 11, 2001 seems like yesterday because those specific memories are still so tangible and vivid, and still as inconceivable and shocking as they were then. How can 17 years have passed? In other ways, so much has changed in our world, so much has happened since, that it seems long ago and distant. Perhaps that paradox is why we mark time in one-year increments — it gives a concrete measuring stick to compare to our fluid perceptions of the passage of time.
Today, on this terrible, somber anniversary, here is something reflective, beautiful, and timeless to use as a palette for your personal memories. Peace.