Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SoCal's on fire

I guess that's stating the obvious to anyone watching the news right now, but literally, there are fires raging out of control all around us...a circle around our city to the north, to the east, and to the south. The only place not burning is due west of here which would be the Pacific Ocean.

This image was taken by a NASA satellite capturing the billowing smoke coming off of at least 14 massive fires burning around Southern California. More NASA. (
Image credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response)

About a half a million people have been evacuated from San Diego County alone. My husband was literally down there just a few days ago, playing a gig and driving back at 3 in the morning through some of those towns. Malibu is just 20 minutes north of here up the
PCH (Pacific Coast Hwy) where I used to commute to feed the rich and famous. Burning. We were in Lake Arrowhead not 8 weeks ago for a much needed family vacation in the mountains before school started. The surrounding towns are in flames. All of it vulnerable to the unpredictably destructive 50-60mph gusts of Santa Ana winds, and the overbearing heat it brings with it.

Here inside the ring, in the
nucleus of relative safety, the air is thick with dust and ash, coating cars and making overtaxed lungs burn. The heavy winds have blown out the usual smog layer revealing a brilliant blue sky with stridents of thick orangey-brown clouds, which on closer examination reveal they're not clouds at all but thick stripes of smoke and ash and god-knows-what remnants from other people's lives, reduced to dust and blown out to sea.

There is an unhealthy air quality advisory for all schools, halting outdoor sports and other outside physical activity throughout LA County. Driving by my daughter's school campus in the middle of the afternoon, usually full of laughter and children running and shouting and climbing, playing games and practicing sports, I find the long stretch of green
eerily vacant and quiet today. And the sky is deceptively bright, orange, dusty, and hot. Outrageously hot for almost Halloween.

My heart aches with compassion thinking of other peoples losses and their current vulnerability to an uncontainable force of nature. It is so random. Unthinkable. Yet in a moment, all could be lost. Up in flames.
Poof. Gone.

It begs the question, what is real? What is essential? What is most meaningful?

And if you had just 10 minutes to grab anything of value to you, what would that be? Where would you find it? Is it ready to go? Or would it be buried under obligation and clutter?

Would you forgive last night's fight with your husband, or that lingering tantrum with your willful child? Would you make amends with your in-laws or parents or girlfriend? Would you spend precious moments searching for the cat or compiling account numbers? Do you have an exit plan, a contingency plan or a store of necessities? Are you ready to say goodbye to all you've built and worked hard for, knowing you might lose it all? Could you start over if you survived the destruction, or would you do something completely different? What would you do? Where would you go?

These are critical times. My heart goes out all around me, embracing us, surrounding us in healing, in love. As the region burns, may we be purified and re-set with what is truly of value.

Many blessings to those who need it...


Carrie Wilson Link said...

Beautifully expressed! Thank you for this kick in the butt reminder of what really matters.

riversgrace said...

Wow, amazing. Thanks for the wake up call. It's one thing to hear about on the news, quite another to hear from the front lines. Keep us updated. And blessings for your home and your land and your people there.