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Brokedown Palace


In remembrance of September 11, 2001.


I didn't realize it at the time, but for a period following the attacks, I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and entered a deep depression. I worked twenty-hour days and when I wasn't lost in my work, I locked my doors, turned off the phone, closed my window shades, and stayed in bed. I didn't see my friends or seek the comfort of family; I simply passed time until I was again too busy to digest the overwhelming sadness that saturated my soul and spirit.

I always believed I was humble, particularly in a business where humility is viewed as a weakness, but during that dark and vulnerable time, I discovered what true humility was.

Lou Mannheim once said, "Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss."

I put on a brave face following 9/11 largely because others looked to me for guidance. Ironically, it was that purpose - that self-imposed obligation - that allowed me to summon the strength to pull myself out of that seemingly endless crevasse. It was day by day; sometimes it was hour by hour. It felt endless.

I often tell people that New York City forever changed that day, but I sometimes wonder if it's me who changed. I'm not the same person I was before the attacks, but I'm entirely certain that I'm a better man because of them.

Life Goes On

If something good comes from all things bad, an optimist would offer that September 11 provided perspective.

I, for one, appreciate things I once took for granted but never thought to question. I recognize the difference between having fun and being happy. I realize that time is the most precious commodity, and truth and trust are the most meaningful currencies.

I've learned that the difference between lessons and mistakes is the ability to learn from them, and friction between opinions is where education is found. I've found that negative energy is wasted energy, money comes and goes, and viewing obstacles as opportunities is one of the greatest enablers of success.

Eleven years after that fateful day, our country finds itself in a fragile socioeconomic state with a false sense of security. It's easy to be angry and wallow in the "why" as the ramifications of the financial crisis ripple, the next wave approaches, and policymakers employ perceived solutions that will lower the standard of living for our children.

Today, however, is a day of reflection, a day of remembrance, and a day of personal introspection. If the greatest wisdom is bred as a function of pain, we're blessed with the opportunity to evolve and the experience to remember.

It should never take something bad for to realize we've got it good, and all of us have profound reasons for gratitude. As we remember September 11, please take a moment to appreciate what we have rather than lament about what we don't.

May peace be with you.


Twitter: @todd_harrison

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