09/11/2014 09:49 am ET Updated Sep 11, 2014

WATCH: How This Man Redefined His Life After 9/11

On the anniversary of 9/11, many Americans will take a moment of pause to consider the lives affected by the day's tragic events.

9/11 eyewitness and survivor Artie Van Why joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to discuss how 9/11 forced him to recreate his life and find a truer purpose for himself.

“The morning after 9/11... after a very fitful sleep, I finally listened to all the voice messages I had, and I got on my computer and saw all the emails from friends,” says Why. “So I sat down at my computer, and I was basically going to write an email saying I was OK; but the minute I started typing, I just started explaining in detail what had happened to me that morning -- what I had witnessed, what it was like.”

When it was time to get back to work a few weeks later, in a building across from the World Trade Center, Why says he couldn’t deal with the smell of the smoke or the memories. So he quit his job of 13 years to focus on writing.

“Eventually what I wrote became a one-man theater piece called That Day In September, which I performed in Los Angeles and off-Broadway in New York,” explains Why, “and it was basically me on the stage telling my story of that morning and the weeks that followed."

To hear more of the conversation, watch the full HuffPost Live segment here.