The California wildfires have made our summer, “the summer of smoke and flames,” This wildfire time has allowed me to notice the overly romantic views of nature that still sometimes linger in my mind. If I truly want to be, “one with the Earth,” I going to have to allow these complex natural processes to flow around me, and to graciously, even gratefully, adapt myself to them. I would prefer a summer of spectacular vistas, sparkling waters, and pristine air. Then I could wax poetic about the glories of the simple life. Instead I must dance with the untamed qualities of this natural world and find corresponding qualities within myself. Fire and smoke are each primal and natural manifestations of the energy of our planet and have been part of its ecology since the beginning. I’m the newcomer, and it is I who must adapt.
Nancy and I prepared our, “bug out kit,” as fires moved closer to our area. The major Interstate Highway through California was closed for a few days about 15 miles south of us by a fire that threatened nearby towns. We have not been in immediate danger and merely have been taking the logical precautions. We bought some smoke filter masks as the air quality has been iffy for the past two months. Amidst all of this, I have been surprisingly calm. A gentle voice has reminded me, “Of course nature is untamed. It couldn’t be otherwise. The centuries that have been spent trying to “tame” her have brought about the present chaos in the world. Don’t be surprised if she begins to show us that, ‘It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.’ Just pay attention and enjoy even this part of the journey.”
I continue to hope that our desire for “freedom, simplicity, and joy” is not answered by the burning away of our house. Preparing our, “bug out kit,” however, helped us see more clearly how few things we actually need to be happy and safe. There is a natural anxiety that comes from the close presence of such untamed forces, however his anxiety is merely a particular vibration of energy within my body which I can choose to use for creative and helpful actions.
If I cling to romantic and comfortable views of simplicity and freedom, I will fall right back into the cultural trap of thinking the world is my resource to use, rather than my home in which to gratefully and carefully dwell. I will end up frustrated by constantly trying to “fix” any discomfort that arises. Instead I am going to let the energy flow through me while I dance to the music of the Earth, even when it is wild and uncontrolled.