It’s quite easy to be brave when our lives aren’t in imminent danger.
And what is “bravery,” anyway?
I don’t have the kind of occupation that requires overt courage. People dealing with potential crisis situations—the obvious ones like first responders and hazardous condition workers, the less obvious ones like parents sending a kid off to school—their bravery garners my respect and awe.
How can they tolerate the continual level of stress? How do they stand the uncertainty?
One piddly little wildfire twenty miles up the coast and I am reduced to a bowl of jelly.
The threat is not remote enough for me to be sanguine. It’s much too close for comfort.
It’s also easy to dramatize. Is this really a threat to my life? Well…it’s indisputably a higher possibility today than it was before the fire started yesterday afternoon.
My body is certainly giving me enough signals. No appetite, a continual low-level shakiness, rapid heartbeat at random intervals. Inability to concentrate or finish what I start. Straining my ears for any indication that the wind is picking up.
Hyperawareness has settled in for the duration.
Years of living in wildfire country tells me that the likelihood that this particular fire is going to come roaring up to my front door is remote.
The more likely possibility is that these high winds could down a powerline much closer to Goleta than this Alisal Fire near Gaviota and start another conflagration…while local resources are tied up with the out-of-control wildfire a bit further away.
My inner critic rolls its eyes. For goodness sake don’t give anybody any ideas!
Because, given my paranoia (or perhaps just my perception of how things really work), it would not surprise me one bit if this fire was no accident.
The persistent California drought has certainly not been an accident, not in my opinion or in the opinion of many others. Weather warfare is real and I personally am suffering from it.
But there’s suffering, and then there’s suffering. There’s an old saying that goes something like, “Pain is inescapable but suffering is optional.”
The implication being that how we deal with pain or other negativity is completely under our control.
And therefore, suffering because of circumstances is, to put it baldly, our own fault.
That attitude always strikes me as adding salt to the wound. Gosh, so sorry XYZ happened. But you know, the way you view it is what’s really causing your suffering.
When I try to tell myself some version of that, the self that is enduring whatever the circumstance is gets a trifle irritated.
Because reality, for me and probably for many humans, is that when we’re imminently threatened, panaceas desert us and leave us grasping at straws. All our vaunted hard-won spiritual progress or psychological balance flies out the window like a bat escaping a cave.
A dear friend back East, who used to live in Santa Barbara and knows exactly what I’m going through, said she wished she could help and she was sorry that I was afraid. “It’s funny how sometimes, it just doesn’t matter what you know. It’s scary, right?“
Indeed, this is so. It doesn’t matter that I know I am an inviolate soul having a human experience. It doesn’t matter that I know my angels and guides and guardians are all with me, always, and probably most especially when I’m most afraid.
I don’t remember any of that when I’m in the trough of fear and more frightening things keep getting poured on top of me.
What’s a puny little human to do?
I don’t know what anybody else would do, but as soon as I can manage it, I write about it. In this writing, something processes through me and my internal geomagnetic poles shift to a more balanced state.
Sharing thusly makes me feel less alone.
The elite who are trying to separate humans into warring factions ironically keep repeating, “We’re all in this together.“ They use that phrase to browbeat us into taking toxic vaccines and wearing masks that suffocate us and distancing from our fellow humans so we don’t “infect“ each other.
All this self-destruction in the name of a spurious safety that only exists as a phantom carrot in front of weary humanity.
To me, the real meaning of “we’re all in this together“ is that instead of complying with rules that encourage us to view other humans with suspicion and fear, we support one another as we deal with fear or negativity by empathizing with those experiencing it. Including ourselves.
There’s another old saying, a burden shared is a burden halved. Shared amongst many, perhaps that burden can dwindle until it transmogrifies into fairy dust and blows into the setting sun, vaporized into glorious colors, transforming fear into beauty.
What a wonderful alchemy that would be.