I saw the terror and
the pain and the fear, my heart heaved and I became.........jealous.
Jealous of people
who ran into burning buildings to save others. Out of goodness. Out of
duty. Out of a true and measurable commitment to others, and to God.
Facing certain death, firefighters ran into a hell that the rest of the
world watched on television. Everywhere
silently thanked God to be living and breathing far away from this pit
of death. And yet, I felt empty and wished I could change places with
I never wanted to
fight fires. I thought those people were crazy. I let firemen go ahead
of me in line at the grocery store, where they shop in Manhattan in
groups (always buying dozens of onions, never figured out why), and
offered to pay for their groceries. I thought it was a nice thing to do,
and good insurance. Should I have a fire in my apartment, I want all the
extra help I can get. I thought these guys were brave, but pathetically
clueless. Why would anyone pass up a safe office job and instead choose
to face down the horrors the rest of us hope never to see? I work for
lawyers. Some might argue that it is a dangerous living, but last I
checked, we weren't
dragging hoses around to cool down testy lawyers. I rationalized that
they were less afraid of fire than most people. They had training, and
understood the laws of its nature. I was wrong.
The thing that these
guys had over me all along was that they had accepted the challenge to
live life, and learned not to be afraid of fire and passion and the
general fear and messiness in life, and instead, had learned to embrace
Embracing the fire,
dancing with it, hugging it means, fundamentally, being committed.
Committed to others. To something beyond the safety of their own worlds.
They made the decision to live life with the highest purpose: to serve
others. To love others as much as or
than themselves. The beauty of these men's lives was evidenced even
more clearly by
stories told by their families. Picture after picture flashed on my
television screen, men younger than me........their lives filled with
wives and kids and mortgages and leaky pipes and never knowing when they
could be off for the weekend..........all one massive commitment to
loving someone outside of themselves. Again, I felt jealous. I have yet
to meet my soul mate, and to think I have not committed myself to anyone
or anything with the highest purpose left
For a life lived at its highest purpose. For the men who left the
planet, and can no longer share with me the secrets of living a
committed life. Unintended longing to love and
loved. Unintended longing to be closer to God in a way I am not sure I
fully comprehend. Unintended longing for answers to questions great and
small. And as silly as it sounds, unintended longing for an answer as to
what those damn onions were all about.