Miss You, Pat
Miss You, Pat: Collected Memories of NY's Bravest of the Brave, Captain Patrick J. Brown, by Sharon Watts. GreyCore Press; lulu.com
In the December 2001 issue of Yoga Journal, there is a picture of NYFD Captain Pat Brown taken one week before he died in the fiery collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11. In the photo, Brown is squatting on his yoga mat beside a fire engine, with his hands in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal). His expression is one of profound inner strength; his eyes have the look of someone who has experienced more than his share of human suffering. I keep the photo nearby, because after September 11, Brown became a guiding light for me—a testament to what it means to be a yogi.
This image of Brown now appears on the cover of a book of remembrances about this real-life hero. Miss You, Pat, conceived as a "crazy quilt" of memories, was written by Brown's close friend Sharon Watts, who stitches together stories she gathered from people whose lives Brown had touched, including Jivamukti cofounder Sharon Gannon and yoga teacher Seane Corn. Watts weaves in her own reflections about who Brown was and about their relationship. What emerges from these collective memories is the portrait of an extraordinary man—a humble hero struggling to make meaning out of his existence by devoting himself body and soul to saving others. One of the most highly decorated firemen in the history of the NYFD, Brown was legendary for his daring rescues.
Through the practice of yoga, Brown found peace of mind. As he confided in his 2001 Yoga Journal interview, "I've been through a lot of really bad things in the fire department . . . I work through my emotions while I'm doing asanas. Breathing and feeling all of these feelings doesn't make it easier. It's just different than dealing with the feelings in other ways. The pain is more incisive and deep, but it's not flying around. It's just as sad, but it's clean." As I reread these words in Miss You, Pat, I am once again inspired by Brown's courage. And after reading Watts's collection, I realized that I am not alone.