hortly after September 11, shaken by the events in New York and Washington, I got on a flight to Newark to continue my work, this time teaching Tai Chi in school assemblies in the understandably tense bedroom communities surrounding Manhattan. I didn't quite know what to expect but soon found myself surrounded by surprisingly bright-eyed, gloriously noisy children who seemed to view me as a younger barefoot Mister Rogers with muscles. My famous line that week was "Scoot back, everybody….

S-C-O-O-O-T BACK," because they were, quite literally, right in my face. My God, these kids had some pent-up energy, and after my solo and quite sobering visit to a still-smoldering Ground Zero, it became even more apparent to me how important it was to continue to do what I do, and do it well and with passion.

Like many of us, I have had nightmares of the cries of the people in those buildings, the hands, the eyes, the hearts, the voices, the feelings, the people, the humanity that we will never see, touch or hear from again. It is often too painful to even acknowledge, but we can learn to value and steer our own lives in a positive direction.

It definitely behooves us all to listen, laugh, cry, emote and express our feelings to each other, to address and resolve conflict in our own lives, and to acknowledge and take responsibility for our own actions. By facing our fear, looking at it, breathing through it, talking about it, and ultimately releasing it, we may find at the end of the day that all of us can sleep better as we move forward into the light of self-respect, love and the pristine unbeatable desire to make the world a better place.

Is it still a Buff Life? You bet it is. From the eager eyes of ever-curious children learning martial arts, to the caring flight attendant who didn't really have to inform me that my "cranberry-apple juice" was not juice at all, to the strangely comforting, majestic, angelic, awe-inspiring silence that rises above and blankets the lovingly dedicated rescue workers in and around where the Twin Towers once stood, life is here for us, now, and is to be lived with expression, compassion, and vitality, even if it feels like it is the most difficult time we have ever encountered. An ancient Tai Chi proverb states, "To move, move every part. To be still, quiet every part." My interpretation? Feel it. Live it. Express it.

Upon ordering my "cranberry-apple juice," American Airlines' flight attendant "Jim" (whose name may have been changed to protect the innocent) told me that it is not juice at all, and that a Coke has less calories and less sugar. "What?" I said. "Impossible." Upon label comparisons, I discovered that Jim was indeed correct. There are 220 calories and 58 grams of sugar in Minute Maid's Cranberry-Apple Cocktail, which contains only 15% juice. A 12-ounce Coke has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. Adding embarrassing insult to injury to my fitness rep, the same size can of Minute Maid actually gives you only a deceptive 11.5 ounces, thus cheating you out of that last half-ounce of coma-inspiring, mood-swinging, high-fructose sugar-laced "juice." So if water is not your drink of choice, go for the Coke, the "juice" is dangerous.

Just when I thought I was the fitness king of the universe, what a time to discover - as on September 11 - that life is not trivial but it's the trivial things in life that can make us look at familiar things in a brand new way. PSL

Since his words have last graced the pages of Palm Springs Life, renowned wellness expert, Scott (Abs of Steel) Cole, has completed five new products including his Best Abs on Earth, Millennium Stretch for Two, Yin/Yang Kickboxing and Tai Chi videos, and his reviving Tangerine Green: Meditation and Tangerine Green: Healing Music CDs. For more on Scott, and to further lift your spirits and your buttocks to new heights, visit www.scottcole.com.

Palm Springs Life - January 2002

Photograph of Scott Cole by Greg Bruce