Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

September 6, 2011

September 2011 – A Tool-Less Month

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 12:03 am
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                I have been struggling to find a tool that fits this September.  This September, our family is celebrating holidays with married children, for the first time.  This September, our family is sending a student off for a year of study abroad.  And this September, our family, along with families all over the world, is trying to mark, in a meaningful way, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.   I thought about caulking guns that apply a bead of silicone to hold things together, and protect against the elements.  I thought about saws, cutting through  trees, and pry-bars offering leverage.  This month, with its myriad feelings and challenges, has me stumped.

                There are the routine challenges of September.  School starts, and being a Professor, that means courses to plan and projects to begin.  The transition from vacation mode to the work grind is never easy, and in our home, graduates fortunate to be gainfully employed are negotiating that shift.  There’s also the loss of warmth and light.  The days quickly shorten, and the threat of 100+ degrees seems long gone.  The air, especially at night, chills in anticipation of seasons to come.

                Then there are the personal September challenges.  In our family, it is a month filled with birthdays and anniversaries.  Some of the latter are reminders of happy joining, but we also meet annually in September to visit the cemetery and remember special ones we’ve lost.

                Then there are the challenges of this September, 2011.  I realized, about the time the previews of 9-11 memorial shows surfaced, and news stories began highlighting the upcoming anniversary, that the approach  was making September especially challenging.  I suspect I am not the only one feeling a bit frayed, and the rare earthquake and hurricane in NY in the last few weeks don’t serve to soothe.   In fact, being glued to the radio and TV, shifting into emergency mode, recommended for the recent natural disasters, brought back many feelings from the days and weeks post 9-11.  The day of the earthquake, every colleague, patient, and friend I met somehow referenced 9-11 in their comments –  they thought it was terrorism, they wouldn’t stay inside a trembling building, they were emotionally, as well as physically shaken.   The reactions were a jarring reminder of how  powerfully events of ten years ago influence us today.  If this is the response for those of us with limited personal loss or connection to the trauma of   9-11, my heart goes out to those for whom this anniversary is so much more potent.

        The mental health prescriptions from ten years ago; to moderate one’s media exposure, to find meaning, to focus on what you can control, are equally relevant now.  I am making it a point to limit the “commemorative” tv specials I watch, no matter how compelling they seem.  I am trying to view, not just the anniversary, but all our family’s September challenges in meaningful ways.  I am filling days with things I can control, some of which are busy work, but many are important and productive.

          In looking for a tool for my toolbox this month, I am wondering if September itself, is the tool.  Time is, after all, at least as powerful as a chainsaw or nail gun, and  like those tools, can wreak havoc, or be used to build.  In the Jewish calendar, September marks a beginning, a new year.  It is an ideal month for reflecting, for generous forgiveness but not forgetting, for optimistic moving ahead tempered by realistic appraisal of what went before.  In this month of transition and challenge, I am hoping for meaningful moments, and praying for a year of blessings, and send my wishes to all near and far.  May September and the year it heralds, bring caring and comfort, good lessons and great learning, a balanced blend of excitement and calm, and lots to add to life’s toolbox!


1 Comment »

  1. Well done!

    Comment by Michael Novick — September 7, 2011 @ 5:10 pm |Reply

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