Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Here's a unique analogy for you.

Why surviving a wildfire is like having a child with Down Syndrome
-or an exercise in selfish rationalization - you decide

Everyone filters information - we are the sum of our experiences.
Last week's wildfires directly impacted over 300,000 people in my county, and indirectly affected an entire region. It was gripping television for several days, 24 hours a day. Stories of evacuation, stories of sudden change, stories of futures forever changed, sometimes gradually, sometimes in an instant. Tears, resolve, promises of help, acts of courage and compassion.
It's a lot like having a child with Down Syndrome. How, you ask?
  • Your present becomes irrelevant
  • You're afraid about what you don't know
  • The past becomes an irreplaceable memory
  • Everything is different, yet it really is the same - you just see it differently
  • Important things come sharply into focus
  • People say things to you that they themselves don't understand
  • Your plans change
  • Appointments mean nothing
  • Your expectations evaporate, then 'morph' into something else entirely
  • Bitterness becomes your friend, then an ally, and, if you're smart, an energy source
  • You find out who your friends are
  • You learn what community can really mean
  • You learn that we are all afraid, we are all damaged, and we all need each other, despite our thoughts to the contrary.
  • Rebuilding is not restoration. It can be more, it can be less, but it will never be the same.

These are some of the thoughts I had while watching it unfold from my living room.

Now, there are some who don't see the birth of a child with Down Syndrome as a catastrophic event. There are some who return to a million-dollar pile of ash and say, "It's just stuff."
Everyone filters information - we are the sum of our experiences.

I'm just sayin.

There's a local guy who arrived on San Diego TV at about the same time I started college here, in the 70's. Larry Himmel lost his home, last week. His thank-you video I've linked to hits many of the themes I've tried to strike, here. There's nothing like hearing it from someone who knows. I particularly liked "if as many people are praying for me as have told me they are praying for me" . . . I don't think he realizes how tired he looks; his gratitude is tempered by the reality of what has happened, as well as what lies ahead. He's a very fortunate man. I admire his ability to share it all with the rest of us.