On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was sitting at my desk typing an email when the world changed forever. I remember it with great clarity. I felt it. I literally felt it. My desk was on the 70th floor of the World Trade Center in New York City. I was in the first tower that was attacked on that fateful morning.
At the time we did not know what had happened, but we knew whatever it was, it was bad. The whole building rocked back in forth. Instantly we all knew we needed to evacuate. I spent roughly 45 minutes in the stairwells of the North Tower. We came to complete stops at times while waiting for the injured to be carried down and firefighters to head up.
Reflecting back on that day 15 years later I'm filled with a mixture of emotions. I saw horrific things both inside and outside of the towers. About 20 minutes after I exited the towers, the South tower fell. I was standing 1.5 blocks away. I've never been more scared in life. Shortly after that I heard planes flying overhead wondering if another plane was about to drop out of the sky. Then a few minutes later everyone on the street breathed a sigh of relief, some even cheered. We found out the noise was coming from US fighter jets. They were flying overhead to keep the city safe.
I'm very fortunate. Not only did I make it out of the towers without a scratch but I never suffered any post-traumatic stress. I never even had a single nightmare.
Roughly 12.5 years later Mickelle and I made a decision to begin an incredible journey. The journey we document on this blog. We decided to leave the comfort of our home in the Seattle area. Leave a job I really enjoyed. Remove our daughter from a school she loved and hit the road to explore Mexico and Central America.
We've been asked a number of times how September 11 impacted our lives and influenced our decision to travel. Surely it must have impacted us in some manner…how else could we explain the risks we're taking driving our family throughout this region?
It would be easy to say yes, the event of September 11 made us more tolerant and accepting of risk, but we'd be lying. While we've been through multiple earthquakes, the outer bands of a hurricane, a riot, hassled for bribes by police, and even had to rely on emergency medical care in an impoverished country but...believe it or not statistically we're just as safe (some might argue safer) than if we were living the lifestyle we did in the US. We're eating healthier, working less and living a more stress-free life (heart disease is the #1 killer in the US and these are some of the most controllable factor to reducing the risk).
So did September 11 have any impact on your desire to travel? It's hard to say. Mickelle and I have never been the complacent type. Perhaps that day reminded us of our own mortality. If that's the case we're making the most out of this life and can't imagine being happier. Plus, we're exposing our kids (and ourselves) to an education that does not come in textbooks. In addition to world-schooling our kids are receiving a first-hand education on the powers of diversity. Not a week goes by where they can’t be found playing with kids across different cultural, social, or economic backgrounds. It’s makes any perceived risk in our travels worth it instantly.
As I reflect on this sacred day I'm reminded how lucky I am to be born where I was. Being an American is a tremendous privilege and one that I don't take lightly. I see how fortunate we are in our travels. We also feel a tremendous gratitude to the American Military, firefighters and police officers who responded, and still continue to respond, with great bravery in the protection of our nation.
God Bless America!