Tough decision? Compared to what?
I was eating breakfast. Typical grub. A dozen egg whites and oatmeal. Lots of coffee. Once done, off to the gym. The house had a small 10 inch TV secured up under the pantry cabinet. The news was on. Fox News. Breaking News. A small piece of a plane was sticking out of the building. I thought, what a dumb ass, someone flew their small plane into the building. I drank, cooked and watched. They showed a view of a plane in flight. I thought it was a replay. It was a big passenger plane, not a small plane. I said to myself, ‘I was wrong, it was a big plane, not a small plane…ok…so, how could that—’ The camera angle changed. It was not a replay. It was a second plane. Damn…
Each image throughout the morning grew more surreal and gruesome. None more so than the ones of those who jumped to their deaths rather than burn to one. Still today, none more so.
When I began speaking on college campuses in 2003, I carried around one of the photos of this horror. It was a shot of the burning World Trade Center, a couple, probably strangers, balanced on a window sill, flames roaring behind them, other bodies in view dropping mid-air, certainly struck with indescribable fear, each horrifically stuck in this life-ending bond having to encourage one another to jump to death.
I told the kids I used the image to remind myself that that was a tough decision to have to make, and any I ever have to make will never compare. None of theirs, either. I’d be in prison right now if I’d smacked every punk kid who snickered.
That picture sits framed on top of my desk. I look at it every morning. It reminds me. It makes me somber. It makes me appreciate. It makes me cringe. It makes me angry. It makes me care. It inspires me. It gives me courage. Still, since that day, no tough decision I’ve had to make compares. All my life, I imagine, never.