Late at night, a little over a week ago, I was thinking about the devastation that resulted from Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma. My heart went out to the people that were still suffering. I felt grateful that I lived in a part of the world that had been safe for a while from natural disasters. That was followed by a quieter and intuitive thought that said, “You’ve been safe up till now.” I felt cautious and uneasy. I didn’t know it till the next morning, but this was a little before when the fires in Santa Rosa, California began. We live in Sebastopol, and Santa Rosa is the town just to the East.
My wife woke me up early in the morning and said we needed to prepare to evacuate because fires may heading our way. I could smell the smoke. I got up and packed up a suitcase of my clothes, my laptop, box of important papers, and my guitar. We were ready to go, but stayed put that day because the fires were heading north east. My wife, stepson, and I hung out in the main bedroom, with the air purifier going full blast. Even still, smoke was getting through the not so well insulted windows and doors. I was filled with adrenaline because I’m a post lung-transplant patient, and smoke is bad for lungs, especially transplanted lungs. I remember looking into the mirror and seeing a very pale and tired face. We all were getting woozy and loosing focus.
The next morning we realized we couldn’t stay in our home anymore and we loaded up our ash covered cars and headed north along the ocean’s coast. We found a hotel a few hours north. It was a great relief to breath fresh air again. We watched stories on the news that showed homes and businesses that had been burnt to the ground. Some people made it out with just the clothes they were wearing. Some didn’t survive.
I felt very vulnerable that this was happening in our neighborhood. It was affecting my family and I, people I knew, and others I didn’t, but felt a kinship with. It was a powerful reminder for me that no matter how careful we are, nothing is secure. Life is a mighty moving force. It can’t be controlled. Sometimes life moves in exhilarating and sweet ways, other times it moves in painful and destructive ways. It can’t just be safe and pleasant. But it also can’t just be harmful and catastrophic. My experience has been that life moves back and forth in its extremes. I’m in awe of this flow of life.
PS – I’m experimenting with Instagram. I’m using it to create inspirational messages. If you’re interested, my account is brooksorama.