I work in Washington, DC. About the time I was getting into the office this past Monday a few miles away a gunman began shooting people at random. There were multiple fatalities. People who that Monday morning were likely thinking something like, ‘the weekend was too short’, ‘I should have checked to see if we needed more milk before leaving the house’, and ‘these Monday morning check-in meetings always drag on, I should get a cup of coffee’ – average thoughts that we repeat again and again, from one week to the next, which are of no great to interest to anyone else or even ourselves, but many of which are inconsequential irritations.
I was reminded of an interview I had heard with a survivor from 9/11. Future colleagues would ask how he always managed to be so happy at work and why the office politics didn’t bother him. If there’s not a plane flying into the building it’s a good day he would tell them. Seemingly, he had transcended the day-to-day frustrations. A task, though I know I’d fail, I committed to after mediating on the possibility that I – that anyone – could die at random, unexpectedly, far from the manner we imagine, having no time to say goodbye.
How can we complain? But we do. Can we only find fulfillment in trauma? Is it only after experiencing the horrific that we can make peace with the mundane? Or is there value in not making peace with the mundane, our perception of an idealized future driving us forward, our belief that there will be tomorrow making possibility the stability needed to create a life lived with intent. Likely fulfillment, as often is the case, will be found in the balance between the two – living for today and for tomorrow.