There are significant moments in our lives. Historians call them watershed moments.
My watershed moment happened 10 years ago today.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a day of irony in New York City. It was a bright, beautiful day filled with horror and ugliness. The sights, sounds, and smells are seared into my conscious forever to be recalled.
I remember running down the street as the South Tower collapsed in my direction. My life truly flashed before my eyes. On that morning, I believed down to my very core that I was going to die on a street in New York City—a city I had always dreamed of living in; a city I had been living in for less than two months.
But I did not die—I survived. And that forces me to ask myself the same question every day: Why?
That simple question is usually followed by more questions: Why me? Why them? Why did I have to get sick? What awaits me as so many who suffer from the same respiratory disease as me are beginning to die?
I realize now that I had to be one of the victims that day—that it was God’s plan. Despite the memories, the emotional and mental anguish, the respiratory disease, and the feeling of a destiny unfulfilled, I had to experience this tragedy.
And I feel it made me a better person. I am kinder. I am more understanding. I listen better. I see all angles rather than just one. I am more thoughtful and pragmatic. I am less quick to anger and am quicker to let go. I am more secure in my faith and relationship with God.
Although I am and always will be far from perfect, I am indeed a better human being. I hope that those who have known me before and since have noticed this change. I hope those who knew me before—those who knew the old me—can appreciate this change; this metamorphosis. For those who have met me after September 11, 2001, I am so glad you know the better Debbie Bonaminio.
I have always felt that I was put on this earth for greatness—not out of arrogance, but through a burning desire not to settle for mediocrity or the pedantic, predictable life that so many settle for. After September 11, 2001, I let that ember almost die out. I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity and suffer from motivational paralysis.
That ends today.
The time has come for me to let go of all that is holding me back; to let go of feelings that have kept me standing still rather than allowing me to charge forward to fulfill the destiny that I felt I lost 10 years ago today.
God willing, I shall be where I truly am meant to be someday performing the work I was placed on this earth to do—fulfilling my true destiny.
Debbie Bonaminio is a September 11 survivor and a special guest contributor to Rethinking Complexity.