Victor Guzman survived 9/11 from the 85th floor of the World Trade Center Watch this video to see how he lived to tell how 9/11 changed his life in a positive way.
In a strange way, his story is my story.
I was on the opposite coast that dreadful morning, but the impact was no less devastating. I had celebrated my 50th birthday 12 days earlier by being downsized from the best, most lucrative position of my career as International Division President of Allied Domecq (Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts). I almost never watch TV, but for some reason that morning I flipped on the news a few seconds before the image of the first plane hitting the first tower seared itself into my consciousness. I believe the impulse to turn on the TV at that moment was not an accident. I called my family together and remember telling them that I didn’t know what it meant, but it was hugely significant and the world would never be the same from that moment forward.
Newly emancipated from my career at its peak, I was still full of confidence. I decided to take advantage of that moment of freedom and reward my dear wife, who had faithfully followed me across the world as we climbed the ladder. We abruptly sold our California house, moved to Atlanta and built our 5,000 square foot dream house where we could be near her family.
What followed was four years of unemployment. It was a period when, like Mr. Guzman in this video, I had the time to be intensely involved with my family. We enjoyed precious moments working, playing and studying the scriptures together. It was also a time of grief and depression. My oldest son, stricken with the disease of schizophrenia took his life. The first five years following 9/11 was punctuated by some consulting work and one year as International Division Managing Director (President equivalent) at Papa John’s International. In that year, my performance exceeded all the targets I was given, but within one year to the day, I was fired by a boss who had never intended to fill that position and knew it would be vacant again one year from filling it. I had sold our Atlanta home and relocated to a place we didn’t want to be. Success meeting my objectives at Papa John’s had refreshed my confidence, but this time I was done with living inside the matrix, the corporate life.
It had been just over five years since 9/11 and my departure from Allied Domecq. The second 5-year phase of post 9/11 life began. Always supportive, Becky followed me as I threw what was left of our life savings and all of my energy into building a community where we could live free and independent, surrounded by honest, supportive, creative and hard-working people of like mind, good people who care about their fellow-man as Christ taught. This second 5-year segment has not been easy, nor financially profitable. Today, I have more questions than I have answered. But, of the things that are important, I am blessed. My children are now all independent – two in college, two married with children. I had time to be with them in their formative years, building and enjoying them. I live in a place of immense natural beauty. My personal land and home are debt free. I have time to think and have spent a much of my time meditating, reading and writing. My wife has thrown herself into raising a garden that feeds us. We have a secure, private supply of clean, pure, life-giving water. Our efforts have yielded a core group of trusted, beloved friends.
So, you can see, 9/11 has a great deal of significance to me. You could say it was the beginning of a ten-year journey through tumult, failure, sadness, depression, blessings, hope, peace and empowerment. The journey has just begun.
In this moment of reflection, I am impressed to tell you that
the outcome of the next years will depend on whether we sink into confused despair or realize that we are individually and collectively powerful. With God’s guidance, we can create a world of hope, peace and power.