Andy note: "Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from September 2011 . If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.
I'm going to keep this short because I have no doubt that you'll be inundated with 9/11 remembrances all weekend. To say it changed all of our lives would be a gross understatement. The tragedy taught me a valuable lesson, though, and maybe it'll mean something to you as well.
I was living on the West Coast ten years ago, and my clock radio woke me up on the morning of 9/11. The normally goofy morning show guys were talking a mile a minute and I heard that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. They were saying it was probably a private plane and that there was no word on injuries or deaths yet. So I rolled over and turned on CNN. A couple minutes later I watched in horror as United 75 slammed into Tower 2. At first I thought it was a replay of the first crash. Then I realized the other tower was already burning and I'd just witnessed the worst terrorist attack in American history.
My first thought was for my boys at the NYBOT in building 4. They all made it out. Thecrew wasn't so lucky. Almost 700 of them died that day, more than half the company.
I was at a point in my life where I was just coasting. I was 32 years old, I owned a company that bored me to tears, and lying next to me in bed was a woman I didn't love. The only passion in my life was a novel I'd just written that I was set to pitch to agents at a literary festival in New Orleans a couple weeks later.
I tore myself away from the TV after a couple hours and made my way to my office. My secretary was a mess, so I sent her home. And I sat there alone in my office and thought about what my life had become.
A business I hated.
A loveless marriage.
My only coping mechanism the bottle I crawled inside each night.
And I asked myself, "Is this what you want to be doing when some crazy asshole flies a plane into your building? Is this where you wanna be?"
Then I finally asked myself the real question:
"If you're not doing what you love enough to do it for the rest of your life, why the hell would you do it for one day longer?"
"You know you're not gonna be married to her for the rest of your life. Why are you wasting her time and yours? Why would you do it for one day longer?"
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't have an answer. There was no reason to do any of it for one day longer.
A couple weeks later I left my wife. I know that sounds harsh, but it was the best thing for both of us. With the exception of a couple of paintings and an '82 Dom Perignon Cuvee Rose that had sentimental value to me, I gave her everything we had just to cushion the blow.
Over the next month I shut down my company. This was easier than it sounds, thanks to the recent repeal of Glass-Steagall. I was in the insurance business at the time and my largest carrier (who held roughly 85% of my business - another lesson learned the hard way) got burned trying to get into the mortgage racket and had to pull out of my state anyway. Rather than double down on a business I couldn't stand, I walked away.
Over the many times I'd visited New Orleans, I fell in love with the place. So I decided that would be home. I didn't know anyone there. I didn't have a job there. I didn't even have a place to live. But I threw what would fit in the back of my truck and a U-Haul trailer and just figured I'd make it work. My best friend was equally disillusioned with his life, so he decided to join me.
The rest, as they say, is history.
My point in all this is that crazy, sometimes evil, shit happens all the time. You never know if you're gonna get hit by a bus tomorrow, or some dickhead's gonna blow you up for something you had nothing to do with. You can't control that stuff.
What you can control is how you live your life. Please, guys, please don't waste it doing something you hate. I understand that you sometimes have to do something you hate for awhile in order to achieve something you're passionate about. That's another thing entirely, and sacrifice is a big part of success. But to just find yourself in a rut and do nothing about it is unacceptable.
If you're not doing something you love enough to do it the rest of your life, why would you do it for one day longer? Please don't waste your life. Every man dies. Not every man lives. Take risks. Love recklessly. The folks who went to work in those towers that morning 10 years ago would tell you the same thing.
In a New York minute everything can change.