Ten years ago I had just moved to New York City.
Ten years ago I was just beginning a Master’s degree at Manhattan School of Music.
Ten years ago my roommate woke me up saying, “oh my god, you’ve got to see this…”
Ten years ago we sat in our living room together, watching our tv in shock and horror.
We watched as one of the World Trade Center towers smoked and burned.
We watched a second plane fly into the second Twin Tower.
We watched as the towers crumbled before our eyes, crushing the people trapped within, clouds of dust flooding the streets, people running for their lives.
Ten years ago we sat around all day wondering what to do, where to go.
Ten years ago we climbed to the roof of our building with some friends who lived upstairs and looked toward downtown.
We watched the giant, thick tower of endless smoke that was rising into the sky.
We watched fighter jets circle Manhattan in the afternoon sun.
We watched as our silent, empty streets filled with people, forced to walk home from work.
Ten years ago we speculated as to who would have done this.
Ten years ago we wondered why this was happening.
Ten years ago we felt under attack.
Ten years ago our world changed.
Ten years ago, I was stunned at the level of violence and hate humanity was capable of.
Ten years ago, I also marveled at the beauty and compassion humanity was capable of.
I watched people holding, comforting each other at candlelit shrines all over New York.
I watched as subway stations became wall-papered with pictures of loved ones.
I watched strangers smile at each other as they walked by on the street.
I watched as people committed random acts of kindness in one of the toughest cities in the world.
I watched as one of the loneliest cities in the world to live in became a community, united and strong.
Now, after a five-year hiatus in Houston, I am a resident of New York City again.
Now, I am working at the opposite end of the country in Los Angeles.
Now, after a decade of desensitizing myself to all that happened, I find myself on the edge of tears as the world reminisces.
Now, I am about to sing my first Mozart Requiem.
Now, I think of all the lives lost on that day and since as I study Mozart’s unfinished music.
Now, I am grateful that I am immersed in a profession that is dedicated to realizing the beauty that humanity is capable of.
Now, as the world marks a decade since September 11, 2001, I find that all I really want to say is this:
I really believe that, all being human, we are all in essence one.
When we hurt each other, we hurt ourselves.
When we kill each other, we kill ourselves.
I leave you with this excerpt from Handel’s oratorio, Theodora:
Descend, kind Pity, heavenly guest,
Descend, and fill each human breast with sympathizing woe.
That liberty and peace of mind may sweetly harmonize mankind,
And bless the world below.