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.

Hiatus gone Awry

A lot has happened. It’s been a little intimidating, on several levels. Not only were there fires burning all around me, I’ve been surrounded by journalism – more to the point, surrounded by stories, most of which tell themselves. While I am deeply pleased that I don’t have one to tell, I haven’t been in a position to really rescue anyone, either. With the exception of some overtime, no school for the kids, and really bad air, my family has not been affected - while several thousand homeless people camped about 3 miles from my house. What am I to write about? – pick up a newspaper.
Since I wrote last, I have:
Been on the annual Houseboat weekend. This trip was unusual in three respects. First, we used the other of the two concessionaires that provide rentals on Lake Mead; the more expensive one. It was “Deluxe” when compared to the boats we’ve been on for the last umpteen years. I figure we’re not going back to the ‘old’ boats. . . hedonists that we are. Second, we had 40-50 mph winds on the first afternoon and part of the second day. This is not a good thing when one is attempting to pilot a 50 foot long, 20 foot high pontoon boat with a canvas tarp (read sail) on top. The word that comes to mind for our mooring attempts that day is “dicey”, and we ended up in a cove that was barely wider than the boat was, even against the advice of the guy that came out to bring us a replacement sledgehammer (used to set the bars that hold the ropes that tie the boat to the shore). No story there, it was broken when we reached for it, the first time. Third, on the way back to the marina, we rescued a foursome that had become stranded and spent the night drifting in a small ski boat with no food, clothes to speak of, and no cell phone coverage. Now, this may all look like great blog-fodder, there’s not a lot more to say about it, so I haven’t.

I accidentally stepped on a week-old kitten and crushed it’s skull, in front of my son, and held it, all of us helpless, in my hands as it bled to death. I’ve been thinking that I must not be much of a writer because I can’t adequately describe this event, and how it affected me. Perhaps, someday, I can.

Had my annual performance evaluation at work. Seven years ago, my position as a manager was eliminated to save money. I was made a service technician. In time, my old position re-appeared, and one of my former subordinates now fills it. How would you feel? I’m just saying, it is always an event that allows me to relive the embarrassment and shame all over again.

I haven’t felt good at all, since Lake Mead. After 4 days on the water, we all usually feel the world moving back and forth for a couple of days. It took me a week, this year, including real nausea and near-vertigo. In the ensuing weeks, I have been sharing whatever Emma has brought home from school – mostly intestinal stuff. I’m feeling better, today, but I’m missing a lot of work. Yeah, the aforementioned work. I’ve got to get going, there’s a backlog of stuff to do, and the holidays loom like Sam’s monthly book reports. I’m getting some ideas. Now, if I can only figure out where I put October.