The wildfires in western North Carolina continue to rage and are growing fast, with only 15% containment as of last night. My sister and stepfather live in this area with their dogs, in the house my mother lived in, with all of her things. When I was there a few weeks ago, I took only a few small items, not ready to go through her things yet. I’m embarrassed to admit that was my first thought: Mom’s things. She just died and now her house may go up in flames. It’s a reminder that things are just things. My family is in no immediate danger as of right now. The real concern is their safety, the safety of others, and the wildlife in that area. In a small fire the animals can relocate, and I assume they’ll do so regardless, but when there are thousands of acres on fire, where then do they go?
Before my mother and stepfather moved there 10 years ago, they considered weather, location… but no one really thought of wildfire. Wildfires are not common in that area. Lately there’s been a drought, and arson is now suspected. Who would do this, and why? I’m hoping these are just rumors.
And my stepfather’s insurance doesn’t cover fire. Sigh. If you believe that everything happens for a reason, which I do, I have to see my mother’s death as good timing, for her, and in some ways, for us, so that we don’t have to witness the pain she’d have experienced. The events over the last few days might have killed her—she really stressed out about these kinds of things, understandably. She’d have gone down in such a tragic way, deeply saddened and fearful. But the way she went, she didn’t know what hit her. For that, I am grateful.
I’m reading Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul, and the part that stands out to me is this idea of how we hold energy around our hearts and block ourselves from pain, which closes our hearts and keeps us from love. Singer suggests that one must live with an open heart, and feel the feelings that come, whether painful or joyful, and then release them. What we try to do is hold onto joy because we don’t want it to go away, and then when pain comes, we try to push it away, ignore it. Singer suggests that we allow pain and joy to flow through us freely. I am not sure yet how to do this, nor do I know how one does it in the workplace. What does it mean to release the pain you feel in the moment? Do I allow myself to start crying when a customer gives me a hard time? Do I lash out at someone who just hurt my feelings? Somehow I don’t think this is what Singer has in mind, but still, I envision myself making occasional outbursts (“I don’t know the friggin answer! Look it up on Google!”), followed by trips to the bathroom, crying in the stall. The joyful part may be even more challenging. Do I dance in the aisles? Some people do that. Now that is real freedom.
This approach is one I am trying to learn, specifically with the results of the election. For me, as well as for millions of others, the outcome of this election has reached a very personal level: my family. Most of them are on the opposing side of my view, and that’s okay. We do not all have to agree. What I don’t understand is the animosity. The outright hostility. One side sees the other as sore losers, the other side sees the winners as gloating. You catch more bees with honey; violence is not the answer. Maybe this was the beginning of Doomsday, maybe not. Maybe that beginning has already been in process. Maybe this had to happen in order for change to take place. What are you going to do about it? What can you do when the world around you is on fire, literally and figuratively?
I, for one, will start with me: opening my heart to love and peace, being of service to others. As my sisters say, true healing comes from within. As paraphrased by Gandhi: Be the change you wish to see in the world.