Close your eyes. If I said the two numbers "9/11"what senses do you feel? What emotions do those senses trigger?
I worked and lived in Tribeca on 9/11 and saw the first plane hit the Tower. When I hear those two numbers, my senses light up like it was yesterday. I see the panic in the streets. I smell the burning trash coming from the buildings for days after the event. I hear the sirens all day long for days on end. I taste the smoky air with every exhale. I touch the ash in the streets. My emotions attached to those senses light up as well. I feel anger, sadness, fear...
The other day my wife and I went to see the musical “Come From Away.” I don't know if you are familiar with that show, but it tells the story of 9/11 through the experiences of the passengers on the planes that were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada because the U.S. airspace was closed on 9/11 and the 4 days after.
The townspeople of this small town of 7,000 showed the most wonderful human kindness to the stranded passengers. They fed them, clothed them and sheltered them. It is a story of connection and humanity and what people can do for each other in times of need. Bonds were formed in 4 days that lasted a lifetime. They had a 10 year reunion where many of the passengers returned to Gander, Newfoundland to celebrate the bonds they formed with the citizens. Two of the passengers that wound up meeting in Canada while stranded, eventually got married.
Now, imagine that I am at a diner. The couple that met in Gander on 9/11, and fell in love the next few days, are sitting at the booth behind me talking to a stranger.
I hear the husband say: "The 4 days after 9/11 were the best 4 days of my life. They were full of love and joy."
How would I react to simply hearing that statement? My first judgment would be anger and disbelief. I mean how in the freaking world could someone look back at that week with joy? Is this guy crazy? Is he Anti-American? I would want to turn around and at a minimum look at the guy like I was ready to pounce.
Now imagine, after hearing those words from the husband, I paused on that judgment and asked him why the week after 9/11 was full of joy?
If he told me their story, would it have made rational sense to me? Yes.
Would I have understood how in his universe, 9/11 and the week after, could be the best days of his life? Yes.
Could I then give myself at least an opportunity to connect with that person before immediately dismissing him given his initial comment on 9/11 that I heard, which in my universe triggered all my senses and emotions? Yes.
This is the pause on judgment I seek, even for a split second, once a day.
This is Ubiquitous Relativity.