Story is the fascia that binds us. It our collective emotional skein that allows us entry into one another’s humanity in a way that dissolves politics, religion, age, status, and borders. It is the passport of our global consciousness that imports and exports shared experiences and ignites emotions, from vitriol to joy, outrage to tender love, futility to hope. Today, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, stories from that day are acutely felt around the world and we all partake on some level, from our own ‘where I was’ memory to a respectful nod at the heroism of rescue workers or the shredded, churning anger some still feel and may always feel for the rest of their lives.
I was an entrepreneur at the time of 9/11, designing and selling luxury private label to hotels and destination spas. My life was changed, not only because of the emotional fascia of shared terror, but also because the last thing anyone wanted was to pay for a custom-designed robe for their hotel when there were no guests. Hospitality was changed forever that day. From travel to service to the way in which we think and experience tourism was inevitably altered. Rooms stayed vacant. People lived in fear. Times were highly uncertain.
Flying home from Toronto yesterday, I thought about how 9/11 both divides and collects us together; how the deep sorrows of that moment when the first plane hit still impact us with ragged, scarring emotions as though it happened yesterday. The billowing clouds of debris, the white faces of people covered in dust, screaming in the streets of a fallen New York, the harrowing silence of those who chose a quick death, and the ones who were left behind, bereft of their loved ones in a single instant–all of these voices and their stories still linger in our connective tissue.
Some may say social media has created a culture of narcissism but I would disagree. Looking out at the stories I see emerging today, on this 10th anniversary, I witness instead, a shared skin, a global connectivity that is awe-inspiring in what it could mean for us as a collective consciousness. Couldn’t we, just maybe, use this to eradicate terror in the future?
I like to think so. For all of those who are suffering today, my heart goes out to you. May your stories not be in vain.