So this whole fires experience –I am still going through it. Weds, watching the news was like watching a horrible sports game, –rooting for the firefighters and against the fire, but the odds were like the underdogs vs. the national champions. The odds were set dead against us. “May the odds be ever in your favor” a la Hunger Games…indeed were they in our favor.
Its hard to explain–its a mix of feeling despair and then dread…and tension…and then thoughts running through your head as if trying to brace yourself mentally, and prepare yourself for the worst, our home burned down by this sinister persistent fire. We are absolutely, unequivocally fortunate. Our neighborhood was set fully in the path of that fire, and it was just the whimsical chance that the winds didn’t blow north west, that we were spared.
Reflecting on these kinds of tragedies, I realize that it opens your heart, your ability to empathize, expanding your capacity of compassion towards others—because instead of just watching on the TV with a detached feeling, an almost numb feeling, intellectually recognizing that yes, that is horrible, yes, that sucks…but to actually be there, see the full devastation and awesome power of the fire, the destruction, it punches you in the face. Going through that horrifying experience of flipping through each news channel, hoping to glean something more, anything about the status of those horrendous flames voraciously eating the plentiful vast canyon of brush behind our home, like a drug addict desperately trying to get every last drop of drug–that is how we perceived each news development. I suppose its human nature to protect ourselves, to easily go back to being numb and detached. But I believe after having gone through that, when talking to someone who is going through this, you, having been through this too, are able to tap into a deeper ability to relate–sympathize. These things bring out the best in people–the unconditional selflessness that in today’s cynical society is so rarely purely seen or appreciated.
Thats the root of it…thats what gets me all emotional every single time without fail; the gratitude and thankfulness, appreciation to these firemen. They worked so hard and succeeded in protecting our precariously perched neighborhood. Thanking them, shaking their hands yesterday when they were leaving our cul de sac…then later when walking down El Camino Real, seeing a line of fire trucks drive by—I couldn’t see the people inside the truck, didn’t make any eye contact, but I mouthed Thank You…and to my relief and delight, they waved at me, acknowledging that they saw my expression of gratitude–that they knew that I recognized all of their efforts –and that made my heart swell.
So, adversity. All the eloquent phrases and quotes already said, about how it shapes you, makes you stronger—but from this experience, I’d add that it makes you also more human. And I mean human in the most positive shining way–as in our unique ability to feel compassion/unconditional care towards other humans and to feel more…our previous limits of feeling, expanded. Like a limb going through physical therapy, we may start off only having a limited range of motion…and with each adversity we can reach a full range of motion (E-motion 😉 And that, is truly a beautiful thing.