New Yorkers are busy. We move fast, we're thinking ahead and even though we live in one of the most interesting physical environments in the world, we rarely notice what's right around us.
For a brief while, that changed in the aftermath of 9/11. You noticed the signs asking for information on missing loved ones. You noticed the acrid smell that lingered for months. You noticed the first responders from other cities - sometimes you even stopped to thank them.
And you did more than respond with your senses. Your mannerisms, for a brief while, changed too. You let other people go ahead of you to get on the subway. You didn't get frustrated when the line for a bagel took too long. You were kinder, gentler, friendlier to strangers.
And while New York's hustle and bustle is what makes it New York, there is something to say for that period right after 9/11. It was a time of grief and shock and fear. But it also was a time where you felt like you were part of something bigger -- it wasn't every man for himself and your day-to-day struggles and ambitions probably weren't quite as crucial as you thought.
We never want to re-live that day, and New York's leaders (especially Mike Bloomberg and Ray Kelly) took incredible steps to keep our city safe ever since. But re-capturing some of the civility, gentility and community that came in 9/11's aftermath may not be so bad.
Sure, we're all busy. Sure, we're all here to fulfill our dreams. But life is never all that meaningful when you're on your own and only in it for yourself.
So as we remember the victims and everything lost that day, let's also remember the best way to honor them is by treating each other with the kindness and respect we all deserve.