I Am Still Standing

The boom of the initial explosion; the crash of collapsing concrete; the screaming cries of witnesses and victims. Everything is reduced to rubble; this once great center has become a sea of trash and ruins. Nothing is left of Time’s Square but pieces of the once vast and brilliant billboards and video screens. All that remains of a once great empire has been destroyed by a madman in a single moment.
That moment never occurred - there was no destruction, no ruins, no loss of life. The metropolis of New York City is still standing; I am still standing. But this may not have been the case on that day in May of 2009.
New York City was buzzing with excitement that spring Saturday afternoon. Members of my theatre program and I were visiting the Big Apple from our small town of Hull, MA, south of Boston. As we finished our dinner and made our way through the bustling streets of Times’ Square we knew something was wrong. Traffic stopped, barriers were placed along the streets and police officers were bellowing out “MOVE ALONG!” It was not until that night, as I watched the news, that I realized our lives had been threatened. A man visiting this Capital of the World had intended to turn his car into an IED (improvised explosive device); set to explode at the height of rush hour traffic; the same time we were eating dinner, just one block away. The news report showed the trajectory of the explosion - if everything had gone according to his plan, we would have been killed instantly.
Instantly murdered. Instantly dead. Instantly part of another senseless casualty count - the kind of count that has become all too familiar to anyone growing up in a post 9/11 world. Instantly my life could have ended at fourteen. I broke down in my hotel room. The thoughts racing through my mind would not quit: “What if I died?” “What would I have done with my life?” “What had I done with my life?” Thankfully, reason and logic prevailed and the type of senseless fear that everyone experiences at one point or another did not linger with me long.
When I stopped crying and realized the lunacy of obsessing over a tragedy that had not even occurred, I assessed my life and I realized I had done some pretty amazing things. As a freshman in high school, I went to Washington D.C. There I had the opportunity to lobby before members of Congress on Capitol Hill on the “Dream Act”- about childhood immigration rights - a topic that most “children” know nothing about, let alone feel passionately about. I had been an assistant teacher for four years by then, and had touched the lives of over one hundred students, working with them to learn Jewish values and start their own road to a successful life grounded in the millenniums’ old traditions. Today, I continue to help pass along these strong values to students every week, and I love connecting with them and being a role model for them. I experienced the bright lights of Broadway and fell in love with theatre. I performed on stage in front of thousands of people over the years, and hopefully inspired some young people to be their most authentic self - on stage and off.
I realized in that moment that while I had already done some pretty fantastic things in my life, I also had more to accomplish – college, traveling, performing, teaching, healing, living – I had so much more to do in this life! I was not finished and I will not be finished until I have attained the goals and high expectations I have set for myself.
Almost three years later, I look at the world in a new light. I think back to this day frequently and I am thankful that I experienced this irrational fear and that reason prevailed. To be sure, this event forced me to take stock of my life and codify my dreams. I relive, not the fear for what could have been, but, the joy and relief for what was not -- all with the realization that my life has been and must be so much more. My strong sense of motivation has helped me change for the better and I hope it will also guide me to change other people’s lives for the good.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback