I scribbled this sign the day after Sept. 11, 2001 and stuck it on a fir outside my door. I had just moved from Boston to Rhododendron, Oregon, the week before—and, like everyone, was turned inside out. It helped me feel a little more grounded.

The line came from a book, Gervase, that my mother had and that I loved so much as a kid. In it, a young girl befriends a fawn who grows into a mighty stag. The townspeople fear the stag’s wild nature and make a plan to kill him. Just before he goes off with them, knowing his fate, he tells the girl, “Hither world, thither world, all worlds are one. Keep high watch.”

When I was 10, I took the words to mean that maybe death wasn’t so scary, that the smallest of creatures was as important as all others. That you look out for everyone, and don’t get so lost in the details you miss what really matters.

I have moved often and brought this sign from house to house. Over the last wild year, I’ve glanced at it and thought, “Jeez, NOW I know what this means.”

May I remember this in the coming days and may we all keep high watch for each other.