Ari Schonbrun The Aftermath (Surviving 9-11 My Interview With Trish Jenkins) Part 2
This is the long-awaited second part of my interview with Trish. This part is all about what happened after. How I took the enormous brick that 9-11 threw at me, overcame it, and turned it in a way to help others
Ari: Welcome to whispers and bricks. My name is Ari Shchonbrunr. And I’m your host. Today’s episode is part two of the interview that Trish Jenkins did with me last week. If you missed it, I recommend that you listen to part one before you listen to part two. Now if you’re ready for part two, sit down and buckle up. It’s gonna be a wild finish.
Trish: What What was that emotional state like then? And then how you moved forward? In that? Was that hard? Were you? Angry? Were you did you have fits of whatever or what happened there?
Ari: That’s a great question. I’m happy to ask me that question. I got home that day at 530 in the afternoon. was a long day. Right? Remember, I got to the building in 2009. I got over 530 in the afternoon. There were 20 people in my living room. Neighbors friends and I know less than 100 phone messages. People just call because you know everybody knew. Yeah. All right. And I learned something that they very important. You have no idea how many friends you really have. Until they all think you’re dead.
Trish: Wow. Wow. Oh my goodness.
Ari: But look, I was alive. I came in, I hugged and kissed my wife. And you know, everybody was, you know, what did he have the story, etc. By the time literally by the time everybody left in one night, it was like 1130 at night. And my wife looked at me. And she said to me now that everybody’s gone. I have a very serious question to ask. I said, What is it? She goes? Are you getting paid on Friday?
I don’t know. She goes, Do you need to look for a new job? Well, I don’t know. But those who like my wife’s initial reaction after after the you know, everything calmed down mended legitimate questions. Now, what, what, what what people don’t realize is I didn’t sleep for a month after that. Okay. Okay. I didn’t sleep for a month I was living on Ambien. You know, and I just, and I was super, super paranoid. Okay. When when I used to leave my during that first month, literally was for a month. When I when I would go outside when I would go to work. Right, I would open my door. Right? I would look up and down the street to see if there was anybody there if there was anybody suspicious looking whatever. And once I thought it was clear that I would walk out of the house. And
Trish: that wouldn’t have been helped by the because I remember the we’re here in Australia. And the headlines were that America is at war more or less than that people you you’re in a city that you would have imagined that you were literally under attack. Right? What is that? Why you will? Yeah, war is the enemy come? I
Ari: thought, I’m going to tell you that there was a lot more to the story. But but I literally thought at one point during the course of the day that something specific happened. And I said I thought my mind they missed me at the Trade Center. Because I made it out. They’re going to get me over here. Wow, that is that is literally what was going through my mind. I was so paranoid when I tell you I was paranoid. And you know what my wife was twice as paranoid as I was that night. That night. 330 in the morning, right, which didn’t bother me because I wasn’t sleeping anywhere. My phone rang. And my wife says, Don’t answer it. It could be terrorists.
Trish: Wow, that’s incredible. It’s so and you know, you weren’t alone. It was so many people and we have, you know, Diane, sharing, she remembers where she was. And she had helped plan the memorial that she’d said and and well, no one will forget that moment. It’s just incredible, because it wasn’t that long ago. And if you were living in that city, I hadn’t really thought about how everybody would feel every day feeling like you know, we’re we’re under attack, for sure. Sure. From from our end of the planet and thinking well we’re in another alliances with the US. So I guess that means we will have to go to war to kind of thing. Yeah. But
Ari: I‘ll never forget my phone rang at 330. In the morning, my wife thought it was terrorists. I said, Joyce, it’s not terrorists. I picked up the phone. And it turns out it was some guy from an Israeli radio station. Oh, who called me, who called me to ask if I spoke Hebrew, which I do, and wants to know if he can interview me, he heard that I survived 911. And I said to him, first of all, it’s 330 in the morning, because I know I’ll call you back, you know, can I call you back at like, 630? I go, No, I go to services, if you want calling back at 530. And I’ll get I’ll do the interview. He said, Okay. I said, How did you get my number? He goes, Oh, I work with somebody who’s very friendly with your mom. And he get and she gave us the number. Wait, so I hung up the phone with him. Because my mom lives in Israel. I hung up the phone with him. And I called my mom in Israel. And I said, Ma, did you give some radio guy my phone number? She goes, Yeah, Sheila Harris is sawn works with, you know, came home and asked her if I knew anybody if she knew anybody who was at the towers, and I told her I don’t but quite why don’t you call Sarah Schoenberg? Her son, I think works there. And he did. And she gave my number. I said, Ma, she’s here. But I told him not to call you now. Because it’s 330 in the morning, you know, he should wait. And I said to my, the guy sitting on the story of the century, did you really think he wasn’t going to pick up the phone and call me right then and there? Well, I told him not to
the guy and it was such a frightening time because his dying there was there was the plane crash into the Pentagon around the same time as well. Yeah, everything happened all in the one day.
Everything happened not only in the one day, everything happened within have to remember something that the the hijackers hijacked four planes. Every single one of them was going to the West Coast. Okay, every one of them going to the west coast. So why did they pick those planes? Because they had the most jet fuel. Right? That’s why right. So and all of them lately, all of them left early in the morning. So they all left around the same time. So everything happened around the same time. You know, firstly, one plane went into the tower, and the second plane went into the tower, you know, 15 minutes apart, then the Pentagon was hit. And then the plane went down in in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. But everything happened within a couple of hours. I mean, it wasn’t it wasn’t over a course of a day. It was only a couple hours.
Trish: It is a night they plan it like that. So that when when one starts, then when the emergency workers turn up, they do something else to catch them as well. I mean, it was just wicked, just demonic. Really. And as Diane said, Never never forget. And you do have tributes to firefighters and police. And yeah, bless shouldn’t keep telling your story. And not just that, you know, there’s the firefighters and the police. And then there’s ordinary people like yourself, who do something extraordinary. And it’s, it’s the human spirit is just incredible. And it’s so good. Just see we had. And there is one apparently one over in Cleveland as well. Thanks, Sharon. Yeah, there’s just my goodness, so much that goes on. And we kind of feel like there’s nothing else that happened. But there’s all sorts of things that happen all over the country that take people by surprise and cause trauma. You know, when you have school shootings and all that sort of thing. And, and there’s always someone, you know, there’s people like yourself, who are there, picking someone up off the ground and getting them to safety? And it isn’t, I mean, it’s tragic that those things happen. But it is inspiring that that, you know, the human spirit is such that there are people who there you got those people, you got the other side of people who will just go along and pick the pockets of the dead and hit hard and it’s just like, oh my goodness, but it’s good to remember that that most people most of the time will rise up to the challenge and do the decent thing.
Ari: Just being that saddens me the most, is I remember what the six months afterwards was like, in the US, alright, it was we were in a united nation. Yeah, it was everybody was you know, it was awful one and one for all. It was you know, we fled the flags were flying and everybody was nice. And you know, we were united nation. Okay, And, you know, I look around today. And I say, How far have we sunk? Where, you know, we’re so divided, you know, left, right, center, everybody Black, White. I mean, every, it’s just, it’s so disheartening. And you know, what, if people would only remember what it was like, you know, back then if they could just, you know, picture in your mind, and remember what was going on at the time and how we came together. All right. I, you know, I always hope that this helped that there is hope for for this country and the world at large. You know, I, I firmly believe that there is hope. All right, but the people have to step up and the people in charge have to step up. And they have to say, enough with the fighting enough. You know, we need to come together. And I just do not just talk the talk, they got to walk the walk, right? It’s very easy to say, Oh, we got to be united. Yeah. But you know, what, start doing something that shows that we’re on the right path. I pray, you know, look, I pray. Like I said, I’m an Orthodox Jew, I go to Services three times a day, I prayed to God every day, and I said, you know, please make it better. You know, I’m trying to do my part, right? It’s like, I got to deal with him. You know, I said, God, I’m gonna do my part. You do your part. Okay.
Trish: Yeah, yeah, well, you’re right, you’re right. And I’m a faith person, too, as you know. And I don’t often pray along those lines. And I think one of the things that I learned when, when I was in prison, and I was with these people who were so difficult, and their behavior was so you know, often quite really awful. And, and yet, I was wearing, you know, we see there’s us, and there’s them, you know, we have the US who are our demographic, and then there’s them, you know, who are the bad guys, or they’re just that other demographic that we don’t get along with. And it depersonalized them dehumanizes them. And I found I was in, I looked around, I looked down, I’m in the same uniform, suddenly, I was them. And so I had to see differently. And one of the things I did in my faith work was I Prasad, God, show me how to see this and how to see them. And I started to see past the exterior and see the person and the heart that was there, the hurting. Aggression is based in fear. It’s all fear. And if you can see past that you can connect with someone. And that’s, I love what you’ve said about, you know, we’ve got to stop having all this, this stuff going on and, and connect with one another, like you would have, like 20 years ago, within that six month period where people looked past their own busyness and they see each other, and they would hug strangers in the street. Now, it probably a little weird to go and hug strangers in the street these days, you know, but to really see and connect. And I guess that’s why you and I had this bond. Now, you know, what I went through was nothing compared to you, although we can’t really compare Lee. But we both had that eye opening experience of seeing each other and seeing that connection and the humanity. And it’s just such a powerful thing. Oh, my goodness, Ari. And then so as you go, as that period of time went on, and you got less jumpy, presumably. And you started you were invited to tell your story a few weeks later, it was very soon. It was it was great. Tell us about how that came about?
Ari: Oh, yeah, you know, it was very soon afterwards what happened was, you know, my friends, I told my friends, my story, whatever. And one of my friends came over to me and said to me that her son’s High School was having their annual dinner. And they were going to the theme was going to be 911. And they’re gonna have a panel, they’re gonna have a panel of people one was going to be the head of the woods and Volunteer Ambulance cook that showed up there. And there was a, an American Airlines pilot, and then they wanted meat around the panel. And that that, that dinner was November 3. Alright, so September 11, happened on September 11. And then November 3, they had the dinner and it was originally supposed to be just like q&a with the audience. But it turned out that each one of us had to speak for like 15 minutes. So I spoke for about you know, and I went last which was really difficult because these other two guys had such great stories and I didn’t think my story was that great. But I, that was the first time that I told my story in a public forum. And it obviously had an effect on some people because the dean of the school called me the next day and asked me if I would come to to give my talk to the school to the kids. And, you know, I absolutely did it. It was a neighborhood school. So I absolutely did it. And then about two weeks after that, I get a phone call from some woman who says to Me, My name is so and so. And I work for an organization called Echo their volunteer, and we’re having our annual tea, we’d like you to come and speak and go, like, who are you? What is that going? How did you get my number? And she said, My son was in the school where you spoke, and one of the kids take the talk, and he played it for me. And when I heard the tape, he’s said, I picked up the phone I called you. And that was the beginning. And that’s how it started that, you know, and, you know, we talked a little bit before the show, we talked about, um, you know, therapy and the like, and I mentioned to you, I never went to therapy, I didn’t talk, I didn’t talk to anybody. I don’t know if I suffered from PTSD or not. But what I do know is, as I started telling my story, more and more, it started to sink in, you know, the magnitude of what had happened, right? Because I firmly believe that I was probably in shock when it first happened. All right. And and I didn’t realize and, but as time wore on, and it wore off, and I realized the magnitude of what had happened. All right. And it was really therapeutic for me to tell my story. And so the more I told my story, the better I felt. The more that I inspired people, the more I was inspired, I did a following year, I did a tour, a speaking tour in the UK. And I spent a week in the UK and I spoken 15 venues over the course of a week. And and the guy who brought me over there said, you know, what did you think how was it whatever I said, I’m gonna be honest with you, I think I got more out of the out of this week than any audience I spoke to. And he said to me, You have no idea the impact that you had on the people that you spoke to, it was incredible.
Speaking, when, when I would share my story, and people appreciated it, there was healing in it for me, not that you do your therapy on a platform and bleed in front of everyone. But I think, you know, people listening and watching and you’ve been through things, sure, you don’t necessarily have to become a professional speaker and go around telling everyone. But there’s, there’s healing in sharing. If you bottle it up, if you squash it down, pretend it never happened. It will spit out in different ways. And it might spit out in ways that are not helpful in anger, in alcoholism, in your mind needs to process and it needs to cope. And if you don’t want to, I didn’t want to burden my family with telling them the horrible things, you know, certain things that had gone I had gone through while incarcerated. But there were other people. And sometimes I chose the wrong people to share with and it really didn’t go well. You’ve got to be wise, who you share with. But I want to encourage you if something’s happened to you, you’ve been through something. Talk to you, fellas. Fellas, I know you don’t like talking about your feelings. But you’ve got to get with your mates and share. You know what you’ve what you’ve been through. Because I bet if they’d been through something and they needed to talk, I bet you would be there for them. So be a good friend to yourself and talk to someone get some help. Don’t talk to the people who want to compete with you for tragedy and they want to outdo you. Like when women sit around talking about birth stories. It’s almost like a competition. Oh dear God, save us from that. Get some help if you need it, because your family needs you. We everybody needs you back and there’s value in it. You’ve got gifts inside you just as Ari has the gift inside him that the the tragedy in my book is called treasures of darkness. Because treasure is found in the dark places. It’s not just lying out on the street. And it’s actually Aryans from Isaiah 45 Three, that I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places that you would know that either Lord am the God of Israel who calls you by name. He calls us by name. So you know this is not a religious program. This one I do have a YouTube that is for ministry. But you know, spirituality is part of who we are. And you get whatever help you need to you find that help.
Trish: Just as Arias shared his story, and you know, thank you so much for it. I just, you know, Diane saying thank you. And here’s a question from Sharon. Yeah, what would be the biggest benefit that you got? After all that happens? Experience?
Ari: Sure. It was, it was a life changing experience. I remember prior to 911, I had a very short fuse, I used to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. You know, I used to I was, I was a yeller, I was a screamer, you know, at work. And, you know, I used to yell at everybody, and things just take me off. So, and even at home, you know, it didn’t take much to set me off. And after this experience, I went, like, you know, hey, you know, life’s too short. Life’s too short. And I changed, I literally changed. Now I’m going to tell you something, deep, dark secret, okay. I didn’t change overnight. Okay, I was the same guy on Wednesday, that I was on Tuesday, I just lost 658 friends and co workers. But it took about eight months, until it really, really set in. And that’s why my life changed and stayed changed for the better. You know, very often, very often, you have a life altering experience, right? And right away, it’s like, you know, you know, I’m gonna become a monk, or I’m gonna become a priest, or I’m gonna do this, or I’m gonna do that, whatever. And then two days later, you’re back to where you started from, you know why? Because you wanted to do so much so quickly. It doesn’t work that way. It’s got to come slowly. And that’s as it comes slowly. It sinks in little by little. And that’s how you will affect that change. I talk about change all the time.
Trish: Love that. That’s, you do. And while we’re here, I would like to share with people what you’re currently doing. I’ve got you have there are two websites. One is for your speaking. And I’d like to bring that up now. So we will. This is our H schonbrunn. website, which is arischonbrun.com. And where are we? I want to make sure I’m going to put your your website’s going across the bottom as well. So you get that spelling are a ri s ch o n b r u n.com. So this is this is Aries speaking website, you can see some videos of interviews there. If you are connected with a group that has or an organization or a business that or conference organization that would like to have Ari come and speak he would be totally inspiring. As you know, he is a member of National Speakers Association. So he has got the creds the credibility that Well, He absolutely has anyway. And so you can see more videos him in the news, you can connect with Ari through his contact page, and maybe go on his mailing list to to be kept informed of what’s going on there. And the other one is his whispers and bricks podcast. So Ari has got a podcast, which he has already interviewed me on. It’s called whispers and bricks. And Ari, tell us why you called it whispers and bricks.
Ari: Ah, great. It’s it came about from a story that I heard and that I tell very often at the end of my at the end of my talk, but the reality is that, you know, they say that God whispers to our minds, and he whispers to our hearts. Right? He’s constantly there for us. Right? The problem is that very often, we ignore those whispers, either we don’t have time to deal with it. We don’t we don’t think about it or whatever. So every so often, in order to wake us up. He throws a brick at us to wake us up and said, Hey, dummy, listen. Right? So I tell people, I got hit with the brick or 911. Okay, but for most of my audience, they have a choice. They can either listen to the whispers or wait for the bricks. So on my podcast, I talked to people that have had bricks thrown at them, and how they managed to overcome those bricks and how they managed to You know, get back to or, you know, go on, you know, continue on in life with their with the issues that they have realizing, of course, that there was issues at the end of the day, there are certainly a lot of other people that have it a lot worse. But it’s also very inspiring for the people listening that said, Wait, that happened to me too. All right. And if they can get out of it, I can get out of it. You know, and that’s, that’s why I started whispers and bricks, because I just wanted to help people overcome whatever it is. Because you know what, most people think that they’re alone. When something’s going on in their life, they think it’s only happening to them, and they’re the only ones in the world. That’s God that’s going through it. And that’s wrong. They’re not. Right. And that’s what my guests, you know, portray. And they tell him, you’re not the only one going through this, right. Trust me. I know, because I’m going through it. And when people see somebody else, you know, they say, you know, there’s comfort in numbers. You know, people see others going through it, and they they get comforted by that. They realize, hey, it’s not just me.
Trish: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so true. And I love hearing those stories. They’re, they’re just so encouraging. And you know, to connect with people like that, there is one more question here, Diane is asking. I think she means involved with Father, Tuesday’s
Ari: No, I’m not about Tuesday’s children. I know the guy who actually started it. Um, but but I never got about I am involved if you’re interested to know I am involved with a an organization called strength to strength. Okay. And that is a is a nonprofit organization, that they work with victims of terror, global. Wow. It was started by a young lady who was actually on a bus in Jerusalem, when a suicide bomber got on the bus and blew himself up, like six feet from where she was sitting, and everybody else around her died. And she was the only one that survived. And at the end of the day, she started this organization straight to strength, and they work with, like I said, victims of terror around the world. They have special programs for young adults. They have programs for older people. I mean, it’s a wonderful, wonderful organization. I sit on their board. It took her two years to convince me but ultimately, I I agreed, and I sit on their board. And it’s we just had it, we just did a 5k run fundraiser. It’s a great, great organization, you know, and that’s the organization I’m involved with. So today’s children know, strength to strength. Yes,
Trish: yeah. Oh, that’s just awesome. The there’s, there’s, it’s great. Once again, so many people rise up to create organizations that, that help. And that’s that human spirit entrepreneur network, as as we are. Ra, it has been so brilliant talking with you, thank you for being on our show. And I once again, I want to encourage people to reach out and have RA speak at your group. That is, particularly if it’s a conference that’s got you know, like a larger organization that can really make an impact, then that would be great to have to have Ari along. Subscribe to his whispers and bricks, I do have signed up for that. And I was pleased and honored to be one of his guests for one of the episodes. So that was great. But Ari, I just love your heart. And I love thank you for your vulnerability and being so honest in sharing your story, but not only your story, but but how you felt through it and what it took to be resilient, and the value that you bring to other people. So thanks so much for joining us today. And thank you everyone remember to to subscribe, and like and share and all those things. And it’s just been wonderful to have you.
Ari: Trish, thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me and I appreciate you allowing me to tell my story. You know, to try and inspire other people, you know, halfway around the world. It’s amazing. Technology is a wonderful thing. You can inspire people around the world without leaving your desk.
You can it’s been absolutely brilliant. Stick around Ari and
you’ve been listening to his puzzle bricks and I’m your host Ira Schoenberger. Until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.