This strange 9/11 story began in July of 2001. David and I were newly engaged, and I just started at a new leadership development job in New York.
At the time, a wildly creative multi-media interactive show, De La Guarda (“Guardian Angel”), was performed in the city (Fuerza Bruta is the modern reincarnation of De La Guarda). The show was described as “the show that falls from the sky”, and sounded unlike anything else, so we went to see it. Performers were flying through the air, the music was invigorating and deafening, it “rained” indoors, and mounds of confetti, papers, and small toys were falling on our heads as a part of the spectacle.
At the end of the show, we picked up from the floor a 3-inch plastic airplane and a similar plastic helicopter as mementos before the floor was swept up. We parked both toys on a bookshelf at home, and forgot about them.
About a week before 9/11, when I was about to refill out cat’s water bowl before heading off to work, as usual, I found the plastic airplane from De La Guarda in the cat’s water bowl. It was unusual: the cat has never dropped any toys in her water bowl before. The airplane was not mixed in with the cat’s toys, and was out of the cat’s way. Still, I didn’t think much of it; washed the toy, put it back on the bookshelf, refilled the water for the cat, and went to work.
The next morning, the same thing occurred: a plastic airplane in a cat’s water bowl. This time, I mentioned it to David, and we decided to set up an experiment: move the airplane to a different shelf to see whether the cat will find it and drop it in the water again, whether she will take the toy helicopter instead, since it will remain on the original shelf where it was sitting next to the plane, or whether she will forget about this game entirely.
The following morning, third in a row, the plastic airplane was back in the water bowl.
We decided to move the airplane to a shelf that is less accessible to the cat, although still visible to her, while the helicopter remained in the original place.
Sure enough, for the fourth morning in a row, the plane was in the water bowl again.
This game started feeling old. We gave up, left both toys on the table and went to work. The cat stopped as well: she hasn’t dropped these or any other toys in the water bowl on the following day, or ever since then.
At the time, I was still in the early stage of my intuition development journey, and wondered whether the cat’s odd behavior could be a sign of some sort. As an analytical thinker, I didn’t want to assign meaning to something that could have been a random act, but it didn’t feel like “nothing”…
I cautiously approached David (cautiously, as we were still just getting to know each other, and I didn’t want him to think he is marrying a crazy person): what if this was a sign of some sort? What if maybe this means we should not be flying to our honeymoon? Could it mean something else? Was the whole story just nothing?
Thankfully, David didn’t think it was crazy to consider a possibility that there is a sign. Yet, since we could not translate this possible sign into anything reasonably concrete, we decided to move forward. We decided to fly to the honeymoon as planned, and agreed to stay observant and open, in case something else pops up that is “not quite as it should be”.
Then, 9/11 happened. After the third plane, our cat’s strange behavior popped into my mind, and I thought “I hope there won’t be the 4th plane”, dismissing this irrational thought at once.
At work, from Roosevelt Island, we watched the smoke rise up from Manhattan. I didn’t know at the time that David, who worked in Brooklyn, had a project on Wall Street that morning, and was emerging from the Battery Tunnel around 9 a.m.. I didn’t know what to say to my colleague who screaming as she was watching the news: “My brother works in the Twin Towers!!!!” (Luckily, her brother survived.) One of our facilities close to Wall Street went into the emergency mode, getting prepared to take multiple trauma victims. We didn’t know then that none will come. Not on 9/11, and not the next day…
David and I got married in late October of 2001. When we went to pick up our wedding video, the videographer was working on the footage of another wedding in early September. Visibly distraught, he pointed to a young woman happily dancing at the wedding on the screen: “She was a bridesmaid here. She died on 9/11. I don’t know how this family will watch the video. I don’t know how to make it better for them.”
This month’s newsletter was going to be an update on replenishing mental, physical, and emotional energy, with a stellar report about presenting on intuition at the Academy of Management in Boston last month, but today, it just didn’t feel important. Let’s talk soon. About all of this, and about what’s going on with you.