On the night of Sept. 10, 2001, I hosted a party for Mary J. Blige, who was on the cover of the magazine I was editing at the time. DJ Beverly Bond was spinning, and I spent the night dancing with a glass of champagne in my hand. I kissed Mary’s cheek and left the event around 12:30 a.m.
In those days, I was living in Brooklyn, N.Y., so the taxi ride home took me across the Brooklyn Bridge. The Lower Manhattan skyline was clearly visible, and I remember thinking, as I often did while crossing the bridge, ‘I will never, ever, get tired of this view. I love this city.’ The next morning, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center; now there is a gaping hole in my beautiful skyline, and in the hearts of all New Yorkers—and all Americans. In the days following the attack, the most vibrant, diverse and
exciting city in the world became a place of fear, desperation and sadness. Though the city would never again be the same, after a long time, the happiness, fun and hope did eventually return. But every year on September 11, New York pauses to remember the horror and the neighbors we lost. I have been thinking about that day more than usual; as I write this, we are nearing the 10-year anniversary. Of course, I am honored to have the beautiful and resilient Mary J. on my cover again—which never fails to remind me of the party on the night before my hometown changed forever. But I’ve also been reflecting on how my own life changed on that day. While one would never wish for a tragedy to gain a life lesson, I can honestly say that what I learned has stayed with me for a decade. Since Sept. 11, 2001, I have not taken a single day for granted. I
understand that every day is a gift, and that the only thing we can control is how hard we live and how much pleasure we take in the small moments. My mantra became: This day will never happen again. What can I do to make it count? There’s no reason to waste time being afraid
of risk, hesitant to have adventures and bitter about lost opportunities.
Live big and bold. Try new things, visit new places, meet new people, laugh as hard as you can as often as possible. You have a few months left in 2011; might as well make this a banner year! Stay open to all new experiences and great adventures—and try to have at least one. Instead of buying things, for the next few months, I want you to focus
on doing things. If leaving the country is something you’re unable to do right now, start by leaving your town. Head somewhere
for the weekend, or take a day trip someplace you’ve never been before—even if it’s just to the next big city on the highway. Try a yoga class or go hiking in your state park. If all of that sounds like too much, how about getting to know someone new? For example, invite your new co-worker out for drinks or ask a neighbor with whom you’ve only exchanged hellos over for brunch. Don’t shrug off the people and opportunities that come your way. Think ‘Why not?’ instead of ’Why?’ Get out there! However you decide to maximize the rest of 2011, just remember that this life will never happen again, and tomorrow is not a guarantee. Also know that it’s not about how much time you have, but what you do with it. Please e-mail me or hit me up on Twitter to tell me how you’re going to make today count.
Please e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and hit me up on Twitter @amybarnett.