Beliefs, Day in the life


Image result for images of people swimming after Irma

Over the last 6 weeks people have gone through massive shifts, from political conflict to the solar eclipse and natural disasters. Threats come from so many directions: military missiles, ancient disease rising from glacial melt, environmental toxicity, the list of things to fear is endless. Our news sources are unreliable leaving people open to speculation that fans the flame of fear even more.

We all have the capacity for fear. We all view our situation or circumstances from our own unique perspectives. People who stand in fear find only the negative, worst-case-scenario, what-is-missing perspective. Most of our own fears never come for fruition. But lately, people have been blindsided by events like the recent hurricanes and fires that ravaged Texas, Montana, and Florida.

Image result for images of fires in Montana

Some folks lost everything and others were unscathed. Some of those who walked away with nothing but the clothes on their backs are full of gratitude and hope, putting one foot in front of the other despite all they’ve lost. Others see only the darkness and feel crippled by the thought of the unknown. They feel as if they are swimming upstream exhausted.

I had to learn to reframe my perspective first hand. After facing the loss of “everything,” I had to go forward one hour at a time and not look back. I was lucky to have a couple dear friends in my corner.

Gone is gone. Crying over what has been lost is energy wasted and unnecessarily stressful. You can only put one foot in front of the other and go forward. Revisiting the past for any reason other than objectivity is time and energy better invested in moving down a new path of the unknown.

A recent interview with a woman who lost everything to Irma on St. John’s island was heartbreaking. “I don’t know how to do this,” she said. “There’s no power, no water, no food, no facilities, and nowhere to turn.”  On the flipside, there are folks on the mainland with their electricity restored and their homes in tact lamenting over the potential outcome: rising insurance rates, lack of internet access, and the possibility of the next storm finishing them off. These people are not camping in rubble with the mosquitoes in the oppressive 92-degree heat.

What makes one person miserable and another grateful in the moment? Perspective.

Things we take for granted are now luxuries to one who lost everything. Water to drink and wash with, shelter from the heat, a flushing toilet, and food. The woman in shock in St. John wanders lost. Hopefully, she will find help from FEMA or National Guard. Others are swimming in the ocean with the backdrop of destruction. Their perspective? When life hands you clear water and sunshine, might as well enjoy a moment while waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

Image result for images of people swimming after Irma

Starting over with nothing sucks, but you don’t need to continue looking through the lens of catastrophe. Seeing through the lens of faith – that things will only get better because it can’t be worse – is the best way forward.

Because if you’ve lost everything, you’ve got nothing left to lose.










Day in the life

Looking Up

Jim Carrey, 'The Grinch'

On my errands this week, I was just about to get out of the car when I looked up. In my rearview mirror, two women threw their arms wide open, sang that strange sound that reminds me of a violin being tuned, ran to each other and embraced as if they’d been separated for many years. I warmed at their loving energy and watched for a moment as they held each other at arms-length while rapidly catching up. Even with my windows closed I managed to hear how well one was doing after having been hospitalized.

And then He showed up to spoil it.

Five sharp horn blasts came from a Grinch of a man, angry that the women were blocking his path. Killjoy. They stepped aside to let him pass to the handicap space where he climbed from his big Buick as able-bodied as anyone. Before marching to the store, he tossed them a pinched glance as if to say, “Take your sickening happiness somewhere else.”

This didn’t bother the women nearly as much as it did me. They resumed their gushing.

I followed The Grinch inside.

He browsed unhurried while I asked myself why he’d hit such a nerve. Didn’t take me long to remember.

In my younger days, what seems like another lifetime, I was The Grinch.

Oh, I never laid on my horn to break up happiness, but I know that I’d thought about it. Even waved The Finger that I’d overheard from a five-year-old just yesterday, “ . . . means you hate God.”

Yeah. I hated everyone back then.

My life had gone in an undesirable direction – for 25 years! And I had no idea how to change any of it.  Happiness was so foreign it spoke might as well have spoken Mandurian.

It took losing everything in a fire to snap me out of it. I can look back now and be grateful for the catastrophe that burned my old life to ash. My old life had died in the fire and I got to be at my own funeral. It cleaned my slate, reset my hard drive, and opened the door to a fresh start. Because when you hit bottom, there is only one direction: Up.

Had it not been for that I might still be a Grinch, stomping around everyone else’s happiness without ever finding my own.

So I said a little “Thank You” to Mr. Grinch for reminding me that today I can only look up.






Day in the life

Guitar Builder’s Shop Burns

Steves fire

This is Steve Wishnevsky’s guitar shop. He took this photo himself while watching it burn early yesterday morning.

And I know how this feels.

In 2000, I lost my apartment building and everything I owned to fire. I was only thirty miles away, pet-sitting for a friend. Thankfully, I had my own dog with me. A friend who lived around the corner called to tell me not to come and watch, it was as good as gone. Instead of watching live, I saw it on the news a couple hours later as firemen were going in my front door. The loss was devastating, even life-altering, but survivable.

I had no money to replace things and no insurance. And neither does Steve.

I’ll always remember that smell of charred – everything. It’s very different than the scent of a fire fueled solely by wood, coal, rubber, or other flammable materials. And it’s one ‘ll never forget.

The next day I stepped through the rubble and ash in the same manner I would a decrepit burial ground, with reverence. I now store irreplaceable items in a fire safe because gone is gone. Physical things can be replaced, but intellectual property and paper cannot.

I’m acquainted with Steve as a member of Winston Salem Writers. He’s a history buff and great writer. His loss hurts my heart, not just out of empathy, but because my soon-to-be-released book is about guitar players. His guitars and other stringed instruments are pure works of art, created with deep love and appreciation. He will continue, as best he can. Because when a creative spirit is fueled by passion, no matter what obstacles may slow them down, nothing stops them.


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