I wake up to the howling wind that sounds like it’s trying to whip inside of this 100-year-old building and rip it apart. I’m grateful for the thick walls that protect me from the elements and the 60 miles that I’m away from the raging inferno near my home county.
I feel like a climate refugee, but I got off easy. I left without the text of an evacuation notice, without the stress of rushing to grab my clothes and valuables and escape in the midst of chaos and traffic. I left town when the smoke was still registered “moderate” and before our power was shut off.
I imagine what it feels like to leave with just a suitcase, not knowing if your home will be standing when you return, not knowing what will survive of your worldly possessions. I think of the millions of the exiled and displaced, the frightened animals and birds, the acres and acres of charred trees. I feel a wave of grief and suppress it since I don’t want to break down at my friend’s place.
I take a walk and am amazed at the vibrancy of the people in the streets. They laugh gaily and seem to be having a great time. Are they oblivious to the fires raging up and down our state? Or are they aware and just want to live it up anyway?
I think of the words “We are all connected.” If we all truly felt this, then wouldn’t we be feeling the pain of those in exile, who are fleeing for their lives?
Perhaps this fire is a purging, a rites of passage that we need to collectively go through. We need to shift from our paradigm of self-centeredness, from “It’s not my problem” to opening our hearts to the suffering of others, to caring about all beings, to caring for Nature, to caring for the voiceless.
We are one family. Now let’s act like it.
by Gaella Grace