A Day of Reflection - Christine Kane

Five years ago today, I was in New York City recording my CD, Rain & Mud & Wild & Green. I had flown out for the weekend to do some performances. On Monday night, September 10, I flew in to LaGuardia Airport. It was pouring rain. I took a cab to my temporary residence, an apartment in the West Village. I ordered Thai food and went to bed late.

When I woke up, I got ready to go running and called home. Mickey and I talked briefly, and I told him about all the helicopters that were hovering right outside my windows and the unusual amount of sirens everywhere. We hung up, and my phone rang. It was Ben, my producer, calling from his car. He had been in Philly the night before. He was now stuck in traffic on the bridge and said that something had happened at the World Trade Center. I put on my shoes and was about to step out the door when Ben called again to say that he wasn’t going to make it in at all. A plane had run into the World Trade Center, and they weren’t allowing anyone into the city. I didn’t understand. I thought that a pilot must have messed up, or that something was wrong at air traffic control. Then I walked outside and turned the corner and saw for myself. My entire world changed just like lots of entire worlds changed that day.

Through the day, I witnessed the masses of people covered in light brown soot walking toward mid-town, some stopping and sobbing, some hugging strangers, and some just staring forward in total shock. Without even thinking, I found myself hugging people and offering a place to sleep in my apartment. I was in a corner grocery store when the radio announced that first building collapsed. An older Italian woman in the aisle next to me wailed openly.

The worst moment came that night, when I finally turned out the light in my apartment and laid in the dark of what was now the quietest city in the world. It was then I got scared. I was scared of the unconsciousness that had led a handful of people to hold such deep conviction that this was the right thing to do. I was scared of my own unconsciousness. I was scared of the quiet. I ended up sleeping with the light on and tears burning the sides of my face. The air smelled like burning bones. I couldn’t believe I was in New York City on that day. I still can’t.

I flew back home over two weeks later. I kept several of the fliers of missing persons that had papered the streets and buildings and bus stops. Those fliers covered every inch of space. The love and loss was everywhere. There were a few faces that I connected with as I walked. I knew their names by heart. I prayed for them and their families and friends who posted the signs. And I took their fliers with me and put them in my journal so that I’d never forget.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The weeks and months following September 11 were a time for many people to reevaluate their choices and their lives. Everywhere you could hear people saying that they were going to cherish their loved ones a little more, take a few more risks, and take more time to pray and be present to each moment. Among other things, it was a wake-up call.

So, on this five-year anniversary of that day, take some time to examine your powerful role in this changing world. Light a candle today. Say a prayer. Send blessings to the many people who lost loved ones or jobs or homes or pets. If you have continually told yourself to take more chances, and you haven’t actually followed through, then ask yourself how you’re going to begin living a deeply authentic life.

Best-selling author and life-coach Cheryl Richardson sends out a weekly email to her readers. Today’s email included a wonderful reflection that I want to share:

Take some time to think about the state of your life now. Take a walk
during lunch and think about the following questions. Print them out and
discuss them during dinner with family or friends. Spend an hour by
yourself writing the answers in a journal or notebook. Don’t wait for
another crisis to take your life seriously. Do it now . . .

– What were my priorities on September 12th, 2001? Have I continued to
honor them?

– Am I pleased with how I’m spending my precious time on earth?

– Am I spending enough time with the people who matter most?

– Am I doing my best to listen to the voice of my soul so I make real,
honest choices based on what I most want?

– If today were my last day on earth, would I feel good about what I’m
leaving behind?

– Am I sharing (or working toward sharing) my God-given gifts and
talents with others?

– Are there any petty disagreements or differences that I need to just
let go of once and for all?

– Is there someone I need to forgive?


It’s tempting to think that focusing on yourself in the wake of this kind of world event is petty or selfish. It’s not. I believe that the only place you can actually make global changes is from within. It’s only your ego that thinks otherwise. Your ego thinks it’s all out there. And of course, out there is conveniently just too big to worry about. Out there is actually in here. As you do these exercises, remember that the greatest gift you contribute to the making of a healthy world is a healthy you.


Like so many other little kids, no other book had such a profound effect on me than Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. I still marvel at this amazing human and the undeniable mystery of her short life that impacted so many people. I want to close with my favorite passage from that book:

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more”

– July 15, 1944

I believe that this peace and tranquility can only return as us, once we have the courage to allow no other option in our behavior, our thoughts, and our lives.

  • Hannah

    Hello! Christine
    First of all, I’m sorry that I leave a message for you without your permission.

    Let me introduce myself.
    My name is Hannah Kim. I’m a currently California State University student majoring in Documentary film.

    The reason why I am writing a message to you is that I’d like ask some help from you.
    Personally, I am highly interested in the issue of the eating disorder since I lost my friend beacuse of an eating disorder.
    Thus, I am planning to produce and direct the documentary as my classwork about the real story of the people who are suffering from eating disorders
    so that I can enlighten the public to be aware of the seriousness of the eating disorder and encourage and help people who is having a problem with the eating disorder.
    In doing so, I am dealing with some people’s real story.

    Of course, I need some music for my documentary.
    I thought if I can find someone who composed the music based on own experience, it would be great beacuse person like you can really describe how the sufferer’s life is like through the music.
    Currently, I am shooting with Michelle(L.A.) While I was talking to Michelle about this matter, she recommends me to contact you. She said Christine may help me out.

    I’d like to ask you if I can have a chance to talk to you in regards of this matter.
    I strongly believe that this film will help a lot of people and may be used for eating disorder organization’s education session.

    Thank you for reading my e-mail(hannah1976@gmail.com). Hope that I can hear from you soon.
    Have a good day!!!

  • christine

    Kathy, Wow. That’s amazing. Thank you right back. I, too, have been spending more time at home and loving “moments” rather than “big things.” (Of course, as I write this, I’m in a hotel room in Missouri!) If you get a chance, do read the link that Caren posted in her comment above. It’s so worth reading.

    Hey again Starbucker! Thanks for linking. (You, too, might want to go read the link that’s in Caren’s comment above. Very powerful. I read it aloud to my husband last night and almost couldn’t make it through.) I imagine that since you live right near the city you were (and are) deeply affected by it. I’ll go read your post now…

  • Starbucker

    I read this and immediately had to link to it in my post today – for me it’s been an entire week of reflection and your post about looking within yourself and finding that “deeply authentic life” was a great way for me to put a “bow” on my thought process and now move forward with great lessons learned. Thanks Christine, and all the best.

  • Kathy

    ….the reflections. It was good to reflect on this a bit myself.

  • Kathy

    I lived in Westchester County then, often working in NYC. David lived in Fairfax, VA. David and I were supposed to have our very first date on Sept 12th, 2001. He was coming up on the 11th for a business meeting and we had tickets to a Broadway show the next night. We had known who each other was for 5 years before that but for the first time connected on a personal level at a conference two weeks prior and decided to see what might come of it. I was going to take it slow, not jump into anything. September 11th, 2001 changed all priorities. One quickly realizes what is and is not important….all we both knew was that we needed each other. Up until then, I’d been the single chick on my own doing quite well for myself career-wise, lots of friends, travelled everywhere on a whim. After we realized the bridges between DC and NY weren’t going to blow up, David drove up to be with me – came to a wedding that next weekend with me – and basically we haven’t been apart since. Sept 11th, 2006 was our one month wedding anniversary and we spent in at a hotel in NYC. I’m still doing fine at work and career but it’s no longer my only identity. Rather than travelling every weekend, every chance I get, my favorite thing is to stay right here with David in our country house up two hours north of the city….and just be. Thanks for

  • Palmtreechick

    Living only 90 miles from NYC, we had a lot of people in my area effected by 9/11. The whole event still seems so surreal. My brother worked right across the river and watched the towers come crumbling down. If I can remember the one positive thing about September 11, 2001, it’s the way people came together. There was just so much emotion surrounding that day and the days and months to follow. The human spirit can be amazing. It’s unfortunate that it takes a disaster for it to show as much as it did.

  • christine

    Hi Caren, Thanks for your honesty here. Yes, it is the same thing…the inside and the out. And getting yourself together is a lot about watching your patterns and choosing new actions and thoughts. Sounds like you’re doing it! Thanks again…

  • Caren

    Reluctant to leave this because it seems so… self-centered. But I think it goes along with what you’re saying. In the spring of 2002, I remember “waking up”. My finances were… beyond disarray. I had eaten so many Krispy Kreme doughnuts, I was surprised their stock wasn’t doing as well as they had predicted. I was living with my husband at the time, and it was his anger over our money situation that forced me to look at it. I hadn’t been tracking what I’d been spending at all, and had been neglecting bills, writing bad checks… every way to create financial chaos. When I finally sat down to look at it all, I opened the checkbook… and the last entry I had made was September 10, 2001. I was hit in my heart with how much pain I had experienced over 9/11… and hadn’t allowed myself to fully feel. I finally allowed myself to cry, and grieve, and cry some more. 6 months *after* the attacks. I had just gone unconscious for those six months, rather than look at the reality. It still strikes a place in me that is so raw, so disbelieving… my heart still aches when I think of the terror the people in the buildings, and the planes, experienced.

    I can find myself doing those things again… not managing money; emotionally, unconsciously eating; not cleaning my home. OK, I’m finding myself doing those things again NOW. Over the past couple of months. And I’ve no idea what the trigger was. And I get so sick of myself doing these same things, when I’ve been in places where I fully believed I wouldn’t do them again. Yikes, this feels deeply personal to put out here… but I bet I’m not alone. So, my goal for now isn’t to better the world, or even to live my dream. It’s to get my money in order (again), just say *no* to Krispy Kreme, and work, a little bit at a time, to clean my home. It feels like I have to get *myself* together, before I can help get the world together. Which, maybe, was part of the point of your post… it’s in getting myself together that I’ll help get the world together. They’re not separate. Although they feel like they are.

    A beautiful essay that helped the healing: http://tinyurl.com/lsc64