Change of Heart
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It's not something I talk about often. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure that I've talked of it since. It was two years ago today and I was sitting with my sleeves rolled up, phones double fisted and eyes darting between the many screens. There was an electric energy in the air as my traders prepared our morning orders. The pre-market action fit our book perfectly and we were pressing our bets aggressively. It was shaping up to be a very good day.
The first thing I did when the building shook was peer over the desk at our administrative assistant. "What the hell..." was just about all I could get out before the screams pierced the room from behind. "The World Trade Center is on fire! The World Trade Center is on fire!" My immediate reaction was to IM my pal Bill Meehan, with whom I was sharing a spirited and soulful exchange moments earlier. As I began to type, the door slammed shut on my screen. WMeehan100 had signed off.
Confused, I joined my employees at the window as the horror unfolded a few blocks to the west. I'm not sure why I couldn't look away from the falling souls...perhaps my mind was unable to believe what my eyes were seeing. It just didn't make sense, at least not in the world we lived in then. As the second jet briefly emerged and disappeared behind the towers, time stood still on our collective perch. Then, in a flash of fire and glass, we awoke from the hypnotic trance and scrambled towards an escape.
I saw the jumpers for a long time. Sometimes, I still do. I remember feeling guilty that I was in pain as so many had lost so much more. I, like many others, will never know the depth of despair of those in the towers or on the planes. I, like many others, put my anguish aside in an effort to form a collective resolve. I, like many others, lost the innocence that we all took for granted.
For me, Interstate 911 has been a lonely road. People deal with hardship differently and , knowing no other escape, I dove into work with reckless abandon. I operated under the impression that working 20 hour days would stem the pain, stop the nightmares or assign some semblance of normalcy. Indeed, as someone who preaches the virtues of "working to live" rather than "living to work," the hypocrisy of my lifestyle dripped with irony.
Why do I share this with you? For the same reason I share the ups, downs, wins and losses of my everyday thought process. The best lessons are sometimes painful and I hope that communicating my experiences will assist you in navigating yours. I don't claim to have the answers, my friends, but I'm certainly willing to ask the questions. And on the second anniversary of September 11, plenty of questions still remain.
Have you been good to others and better to yourself? Are you living your life in a manner consistent with who you believe you are? Do you take the time to appreciate what you have rather than focus on what you don't? Do you know the difference between having fun and being happy? Are you so focused on the destination that you've forgotten to enjoy the journey?
How will you be remembered?
Tonight, as I share a quiet dinner with my family, I will cry for the friends I've lost, the sorrow I've felt and the time I've wasted. As those tears dry and I look ahead, I will embrace tomorrow as the first step of a beautiful journey. There's no denying that we lost a part of us on that fateful day and life will never be the same. Whether or not that's a bad thing is a question we must each answer within ourselves.
May peace be with you.
Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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