Monday, September 12, 2011

Victim vs Survivor

Did anyone catch the special on CBS last night regarding 9/11? It was incredible. It showed footage of the actual firefighters in the world trade centers are they scrambled to save lives. There were so many times during that documentary that I was crying. I was particularly struck by the amount of time it took these firefighters to climb the stairs. They were weighted down with 60 pounds of gear (hoses, jackets, boots, etc.) and obviously the elevators weren't working. On average, it would take them over a minute to climb just one flight of stairs. The plane crashed into the 78th floor. Wow. That's sickening and humbling.

I thought of the physical strength it would take for these guys to climb as far as they did. When the mayday went out after the first tower fell, some of the guys were on the 30-something-ish floor and had to rush down to save their own lives. I know it might seem trivial to think of myself and personalize this but I did ... cause I was thinking of how I'd feel after climbing 30-something-ish flights with 60 pounds of gear only to be told I needed to run back down or die. I know right now I wouldn't have been able to make it to the 10th floor let alone the 30th floor.

Anyway, my good friends uncle was a firefighter and he died on 9/11. He was an incredible man and I thought of him often while watching this documentary.

Yesterday's ceremonies and remembrances put a few things in perspective for me and brought up some old demons regarding purpose and worth.

When they were interviewing the firefighters that survived, I couldn't help but see a stark difference between those that bounced back and become stronger and those that allowed themselves to continue to be victims. For those that continued to be victims, I felt additional sorrow. They could have used this tragedy to make the world a better place as several others truly did (and that was VERY inspiring to see, by the way) but instead they themselves were victims of the tragedy by turning to alcohol or other things to hide their guilt at having survived. On the show, they called it survivors guilt. They came through one of the most incredible situations alive and they felt guilty for doing so. Wow.

It's amazing to me what we do to ourselves. Our self-inflected pain leaves just as much damage on our lives as the evil actions of others.

The power of our thinking is incredible and that was amazing to see in this documentary. Perhaps we haven't all lived through the tragedies these firefighters did ... but we've all lived through our own tragedies that seem just as real and painful. I guess it's up to us whether or not we'll let our thinking continue to further victimize us or if we'll rise above, come back stronger, and use our experience to change the lives of others for the better. I for one want to rise above. It's a challenge, but one I'm going to tackle one day at a time.

Anyway, if anyone wants to watch the episode, it's available here. It's sad, raw, and yet there is inspiration and introspection to be found.

9/11 Never Forgotten. Forever Grateful. Truly.