We were visiting in Chico, California, when the so-called, “Camp Fire” erupted twenty miles away in the mountain town of Paradise. Nancy had met just the day before with her dear friend, Sue, who lived in Paradise and who shared with Nancy some of the produce of her garden. Twenty-four hours later Paradise, a town of 30,000 people, was ashes and the black toxic smoke blanketed the sky above us. Sue and her husband escaped with their pets and their lives, but their house, their garden, and their two cars were nothing but blackened stone, ashes, and twisted metal.
Sue spoke to Nancy on the phone yesterday. “It’s all gone,” she said, “Today is Day One of our life.” She and David were still in shock, but were aware that the future, not the past, now defined their life. We hold Sue and each of the thousands of evacuees in our heart, knowing that they are beings of Light and capable of integrating their tragedy into that Light.
Travel light, take only what you need. Each day is a new starting point for your journey and you never know where the road might take you. This is the truth of life. Living in denial of this truth has not brought humankind happiness, but instead has separated us from the Earth, from each other, and from the Divine. Perhaps our obsession with permanence has brought us to the present ecologic crisis. The more we have sought security in permanence, the heavier has become the load of possessions we carry and the greater our impact on the delicate ecosystem that has provided us a home. We have forgotten, or denied, the transient nature of all life and, in our forgetfulness and denial, we have been blind to this impact.
The people of Paradise are not South American, Bangladeshi, or Syrian, but suddenly they have joined these brothers and sisters in suffering the loss of everything. A week ago they were typical American people with homes, jobs, family dramas, debt, and all the other trappings. Now they are refugees and their tent cities fill the vacant lots of Chico and the surrounding area. Jobs and homes are gone. The future is unknown and the present is occupied with securing warmth and food.
“They” are “us”! A slight shift of the wind and each of us becomes aware of the knife-edge on which our experience balances. This is reality! This makes life the intense, real, present-moment adventure it was meant to be. It gives everything its zest, flavored with the knowledge that it all can disappear in an instant.
Nancy and I are choosing the nomadic life as our own way of living in agreement with this Flow of Nature. For us, it is the appropriate way of finding balance and living with the essentials. There are certainly other ways of doing this, but I think we must all find a way that is authentic for us. The future belongs to a humanity that has re-learned to travel light, taking from the Earth only what is needed, and dancing to the music of life rather than imposing its will upon it.