This month is the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, 2001. Below is the transcript of an interaction we had with a participant at a Monday Night Alive! shortly after those devastating events. As we read it, we felt that that interaction is still appropriate and applicable to the lives of people today. So we are sharing this article with you to read with fresh eyes.

In November of 2001, Tom, an old friend whom we hadn't seen in years, showed up at one of our NYC Monday Evening Instantaneous Transformation seminars. Tom shared with us his experience of seeing the first plane crash into the World Trade Center, an image that had been haunting him ever since. Everyone in the room was moved by his tale and the journey he was taking to once again find himself. Several weeks later, Tom returned to a Monday session to tell us that our conversation had profoundly impacted him and had even helped to save his life. Before our talk, he had been so preoccupied and involved in the upset generated by that tragic event, that he had begun to have accidents on his bike. His life had become consumed by this occurrence. However, after our evening seminar, Tom saw his way clear to once again become productive, effective, and satisfied in his life. He stopped having accidents and got back to work as an actor.

All of us were deeply disturbed by the events of September 11, 2001 and some people have still not regained their equilibrium. We offer you an excerpt of our conversation with Tom in hopes that it will support you in finding or maintaining your own personal sense of well-being during our currently turbulent times. One interesting thing of note: We discovered that how Tom reacted to this extremely shocking incident was how he reacted to other upsetting events in his life, both large and small. By realizing how to handle this trauma, he also acquired tools to deal with other potentially upsetting events. We hope this conversation will illuminate your path should you find that you, too, have lost your way.

With Warm Regards,
Ariel and Shya Kane

Tom: Hi, I am Tom. I had an experience back on my birthday, which was September 11th. Every morning for the last six months or so I go down to exercise on the pier at the end of Canal Street above the Holland Tunnel, around 8 o'clock in the morning.

Shya: So you were there.

Tom: Yeah. I was doing Tai chi exercises. Something didn't sound right to me, so I turned and looked and I saw the plane flying down the Westside Highway, and I said "Oh, too fast, too low!" I heard an accelerating sound and this guy banks, very deliberately to my eye, right into the building. My immediate impression was, "I can be a better person." I started crying and I started saying "I can be much better, I just haven't been" And, then I had another thought, "Oh shit ,everything is different!" Then the next thought I had was, "Oh this is a terrible joke and it's being played on me." I turned and there were three other people on the pier out there in the middle of the river with this front row mezzanine seat. There were two other excercisers but they didn't stop, they just kept doing their moves. And there was one guy way down at the end, probably homeless, and I went down and I screamed, "Did you see that?" He said, "See what?" And by that time I felt ridiculous. These are the thoughts that went through my mind first, but I was kind of surprised that I started crying and I said "I could be much better." I didn't understand what I meant by that.

Ariel: Do you now?

Tom: I've given it a lot of thought and have looked at it a lot.

Shya: Hey Tommy, I suggest you give that up. You are locked in an incident right now.

Tom: Yeah, I know.

Shya: But you don't realize how much you are. You really have to let this go. There is nothing you can do about it. You had nothing to do with it. It wasn't your birthday present. And the more you beat on yourself that you had anything to do with that at all, the more you'll damage yourself. You don't need to do that.

Ariel: And, it was traumatic.

Tom: Oh, I know that.

Ariel: But you haven't really let yourself feel, sir.

Shya: And if you keep on replaying it and trying to figure out why it happened, you get stuck there and you don't have a life anymore. You forget that life goes on and your job is to make a difference in people's lives, and you can't do that if you are not here to do it. You make a difference,

Tom. Whenever I see you on television, my heart smiles.

Tom: I keep going back and looking. I don't know how to stop looking.

Shya: Well, that's because you are not engaged here. You keep going back there and it's like a greased chute. You know how a greased chute works? Did you ever go tea leaf sliding in the mountains of Hawaii?

Tom: No.

Shya: Well, I'll tell you how you do that. There are these tea plants there with big, long, broad leaves. You break them off in a bunch and you sit on them. You get a jug of water and pour it in front of you and you go down the hill on your butt. Pretty soon you have red mud from the volcanic soil and you are sliding down the mountain on the tea leaves in this trench that you have created with your butt and the water. For you, this incident is like that greased chute. You sit on it and down you go. So, you have got to stop sitting on it, OK?

Ariel: I know that the plane flying down the highway and crashing into the building is a compelling image.

Tom: Yeah.

Ariel: But one of the things that you are so masterful and professional at is creating an image in your mind so that other people can see it. As an actor, you are paid to create drama. So, your best asset is also something that you have to have discipline over. You can't let it run you.

Shya: Because it's becoming your biggest deficit, it's dominating your life now. Are you working these days?

Tom: Not at the moment.

Shya: Well, that's part of the problem. When you are not working, you have a screen saver now, that comes up on your mental computer screen and it is that image.

Tom: You know, there is really a perverse part of me that doesn't want to let go of these things.

Ariel: It's useful.

Tom: Yes, I've been saying that to myself. But I don't know why I would think that continuing to see this image is useful.

Shya: Couple of things. One, you can only do one thing at a time. No two things can occupy the same space at the same time, remember?

Tom: Yes.

Shya: OK. Well, you have a choice between finding work or engaging in that thought. Finding work in the acting profession is very challenging because there is a lot of rejection involved if you don't get the part. So it's a lot easier to stay involved in a traumatic incident than it is to get involved in your life and go out and do auditions and keep going.

Ariel: It saves you from the big, confronting things but it also saves you from the minutia such as washing dishes and buying the toilet paper.

Tom: Yeah. I painted the entire apartment up until that point and the kitchen is still left.

Shya: That's right. Well, I would suggest that you paint your kitchen and complete it.

Tom: I should paint the kitchen, right?

Shya: Do the kitchen man, absolutely!

Ariel: And sometimes you have really a compelling reason not to complete things. I mean, come on, this is a class "A" reason to not get on with your life.

Shya: But this is like somebody who is traumatized in his or her childhood and they carry it around to adulthood. You don't have to do that. You can get back involved in your life and those things will leave you alone.

Ariel: So, can we all agree that the incident that he witnessed was traumatic? It was impressive. It impressed itself on him. It was life altering, not only individually but for everyone, collectively.

Tom: So, so I have been doing things since, but, but...

Shya: But, mostly you've been thinking about this.

Tom: Yeah.

Shya: So cut it out. Notice every time you see yourself wanting to go there and get involved in doing something else. It will take some courage, but you have a new addiction, you see. Addiction to your drama. And you just have to break the addiction. You know how you break it? You don't go there anymore.

Tom: Don't look at that?

Shya: I didn't say don't look at it. Don't go there. It's like when you don't know what else to do you start thinking about the disaster.

Tom: Yeah.

Ariel: You could learn to include it. "Oh look, there is that picture again." And get on with what you have to do.

Shya: You could use it as a barometer for every time you don't want to work. See, now every time you don't want to work, run lines, or paint the kitchen, you just pull up your picture.

Tom: And check in.

Shya: Yes, check in, exactly. So, you have to stop entertaining that movie. Can you do that? Not can you, will you?

Tom: Yes, I will.

Ariel: Let's look at what Tom has been doing with a traumatic set of circumstances, in this case it was the disaster on September 11. When I was still acting, the last show I did, Tom played my father. The critics panned the show and said some unkind things about Tom, which, in my opinion, weren't true. I remember, the day after the reviews came out, Tom went back to his dressing room and I saw him pacing back and forth, working on himself because of that input. He was working on himself to be a better person. That review was a mini traumatic incident, and what he did was work on himself to be better. Now he has a major traumatic incident and he has again been working on himself to be a better person. There is nothing that needs to be fixed in this man; there is nothing that needs to be better. Not even your acting 17 years ago, sir. You were brilliant then. The criticism, the trauma just bumped that mechanical old behavior that had you work on yourself, and now it has happened again. As a result, you can stay in that cul-de-sac of working on yourself, but there is no satisfaction in that route.

Shya: But it is safe. See, going out and finding more work, going to auditions and going through possible rejection, that isn't safe. Being upset, while unfortable, is secure. safe. Being upset, while uncomfortable, is secure.

Ariel: And it's socially acceptable right now. It makes you special.

Shya: For some people it has become a lifestyle. I just don't recommend it if you want to have a life. How are you feeling right now, Tom?

Tom: I feel good. I am really glad to be here with you guys and with everyone here. I'm going to handle the kitchen.

Shya: Yeah, do that. I'll tell you something. Start handling those incompletions in your life and these disturbing images will disappear.

Ariel: Completing the kitchen is like riding a bicycle. You paint the kitchen and it's like learning the motions all over again. Before you know it, you'll be back in the flow of your life and stronger version of you. Including everything that's happened, not in spite of it. Whether it is a global tragedy, a childhood tragedy or an adult one where you lose somebody, we all have tragic moments in our lives. You can include them by getting back on the bike, of your life, doing simple movements and you bring yourself back into your own sense of center. The thing about being in the moment is that you will not always be there. The question is whether you have a commitment to get back on and ride the bike.

Shya: Because you are going to get knocked off you see. Life will knock you off, but you've got to get back on. If that's what your commitment is to, you'll make it.

Author's Bio: 

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have taught individuals, couples and organizations across the globe how to live in the moment and unwire the knee-jerk behaviors that get in the way of living life with ease. Together for 30 years and counting, people still ask Ariel and Shya if they are on their honeymoon. To find out more about the Kanes, their books, videos & seminars, visit:

The Kanes' newest book "How to Have A Match Made in Heaven: A Transformational Approach to Dating, Relating and Marriage" has won numerous awards, including the Mom's Choice Award Gold Medal, and is now available in English, Spanish and German. Learn more at