I think that we can all agree that on September 11th, that heart breaking beautiful day, we awoke to one reality and went to sleep in another. In the fifteen years since, on each anniversary, I always take time to say a prayer and honor those that passed in my own simple ways. The emotion of that trauma hovers below the surfaces and each year there are tears.
I did have a number of friends in NYC that day and many of them worked in the towers – luckily, all of them survived. Like many, I spent the majority of that day in absolute shock. Calling anyone I could think of to give me information about my loves. I had just moved to Pittsburgh for graduate school in Library Science of all things – I mean seriously what was my younger self thinking with that?
As the Towers fell I thought that I couldn’t have chosen a worse thing to study. Although it is an of service degree it became immediately apparent to me that it wouldn’t be of service enough. I almost dropped out.
The week after 9/11 as I moved through the reality of living near no one I actually knew, I remembered thinking that this is why people go to church. Church provides instantaneous community and I decided to seek out a yoga studio to help me deal with the trauma of my changed reality. Although I had been practicing for years already, my practice wasn’t deep, and I decided to make it so. I decided to practice daily and to use Yoga as way to both foster a community in my new city and heal myself.
The first class I attended that week was taught by Brooke Smokelin. Although there had been teachers that I connected to in the past, I had yet to meet one that actually inspired me. Brooke and her hybrid ways and beautiful crystal bowls did just that. I was hooked and for the year I was in the Burgh I studied with her every chance I got. I practiced with her in studios, at Carnegie Mellon, in an office one time, and at her home where she taught me how to meditate. She was and remains my foremost teacher in yoga. Over the years many teachers have claimed me as their student, which I have always found strange, but Brooke is the only person that I claim as my Teacher.
Yesterday on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 Brooke and I were together again – I hadn’t seen her since I graduated from my program and moved away. Although the class was in Asheville where neither Brooke nor I live being with her was like going home. To say that I am grateful for this woman is an understatement. She changed my life in very real and meaningful ways. She inspired me to be a teacher. She inspired me to interweave practices together to deepen the experience for students. She inspired me to live my most authentic life. I think of her daily, and was so pleased to see that though years have passed and we have both lived numerous places and studied with many different people, that she remains my Teacher. Grateful as always that this beautiful being is walking the earth at the same time as me – I love you Brooke, thank you for everything.