“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” –John Lennon
This week I traveled to my former home of 38 years, Southern California, to visit my boys, my friends and see my ex-husband perform for the first time since he had a life-threatening health episode last summer. It was all supposed to be so much fun! But…
The first night there was a horrific mass shooting in nearby Thousand Oaks. The second night, the monster Santa Ana winds blew in from just north of where I was staying. And over the next several days, my hosts and I watched as the fire chewed a large path from West Hills all the way to Malibu.
Now, the winds have died down, the Red Flag has been lifted, the San Bernardino mountains are visible again, and the toll is being tallied on human life, animal life and the loss of property and the natural beauty of the Santa Monica mountains. This was just recently my community. These mountains were where my kids explored and where we hiked, camped, swam and skied. These neighborhoods are where our friends live. The shooting site was where I took West Coast Swing Dance lessons and where a former neighbor’s kid was hanging out last Wednesday night (he’s ok).
People are beginning to move about today, move back to their homes or their burned out properties and assess the damage. I ran some errands in Calabasas today and the word “fire” was in every conversation. I heard “We lost our home…” a few times. But what I have seen this week is the tremendous strength, generosity and fortitude of the human spirit. I’ve seen or heard or read story after story of amazing courage and resilience. The neighbors who help each other. The first responders who risk everything to save lives and property. The kindness of strangers.
And, mostly importantly, I’ve heard “I still have so much to be grateful for” in the face of disaster. That’s huge.
Many years ago, we lost everything, too, in a brush fire in Laurel Canyon. I know all too well what it’s like to lose it all, right down to the foundations. The good news is that I have that experience to share with others. Yes, it’s material stuff but we’re talking about mementos and the treasures of a person’s life, of a family. Art and letters and home movies (before we had The Cloud), family photos and heirlooms…all these things that are life’s souvenirs and carry such meaning for us. It’s a total shock to the system. You will grieve. But you will survive.
One thing I could share: 1) Have an evacuation plan. 2) Hope for the best. 3) There is a beginning, middle and end to every life experience.
Tonight is my ex-husband’s show in Agoura, where the fires raged all around and licked the corners of our psyches only just days ago. The show will go on, though. Life will go on. People will pray. People will cry. People will comfort. People will grieve. People will clean up and rebuild or move on. People will love. Eventually, the music comes back. Eventually the chaparral and the trees come back. Eventually the animals come back. And, though loved ones don’t come back, all I can say is I hope the strength and support of family and this tremendous community will carry you through.
The wounds are open now. But eventually they will be healed over. They will be scars that we carry with us. Scars that we can use to help others. To heal.
Oh, mighty winds. Please leave us in peace now. Let us heal.
Maggie Parker delights in sharing her many years of yoga practice! Join her Slow Flow/Restorative class on Tuesdays 5:15-6:15 at naamyoganewyork.com. Please follow this blog for Your Weekly Om!