Photographer: Milo Ventimiglia
Do you remember the summer of 2001? That's when we did summer school at Pepperdine and lived in Towers. And that's also the summer of my Adrien Brody miracle and my Robin Thicke discovery. That summer was pretty magical if I do say so myself.
I distinctly remember being in Italy during the summer of 2001. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was about to go into my senior year of college, but I felt that something profound was about to happen during that summer that would forever shape me. And that's exactly what happened.
I took a photography and video making class at SACI which was a bit magical. It was there I learned about avant-garde film making and the beauty of the collaborative process. Mmm. So good. One day, I'll have to show you the photos that I took and the short film that Matthew and I made.
Needless to say, in the midst of such life altering goodness, I could sense in my spirit something impending...something sad on the horizon. Like something was about to drop. I wasn't the only one picking up on this. My best friend at the time also sensed this impending sadness. It was like waiting for the "other shoe to drop".
I carried on in Italy amidst the backdrop of these feelings and other odd events that happened to me while I was there. I left Italy with a sense of excitement. I had grown. I was not the same young woman that first stepped foot on that soil a month prior.
August passes. But it doesn't pass me with gentleness. No. Instead, it passes me with furious love. And once again, I was changed. I won't go into a lot of detail now, but I had an incredible God encounter. One that I'm still decoding til this day.
And then September 11th, 2001 came.
We had gotten a call in my dorm room to turn on the television. Something unreal had just happened.
Once I turned on the TV, my mind was incredibly confused as to what I was looking at. My next thought ran to my mother.
That morning, my mother was in process of catching a connecting flight to New York.
Before I could start a panic attack, my phone rang. It was my mother. She was safe and sound.
They had grounded her particular plane that morning.
And with the events of September 11th, everything changed.
Honestly, I rarely think about the details of September 11th now. It almost feels like a distant dream. It's amazing that it's already been 10 years.
Since September 11, 2001, I've been to "Ground Zero" many times. Several months after the event of Sept. 11th a group of university students and I served and volunteered at "Ground Zero" in the small ways that we could. It was incredibly sobering and I don't think I've experienced anything like it since.
And although it feels like a distant dream to me, it is not forgotten. I am incredibly struck by the fact, that tragedy does not have to be an end in itself, but instead it can bring forth change that was once dammed up. And at the same time, tragedy can bring forth unity, clarity and focus to the precious gift of life that we often times throw into the category of status quo or unimportant.
We as human beings tend to forget.
We forget how special this all is.
And because of the two sides of 2001, I am now forced to be awake. Afresh. Anew.
Awake and intentional to live. And to love.
Out of tragedy can come your biggest triumph.