Fire in the Forest!

If you’ve never seen a fire up close and personal, you probably don’t need to – I speak of this as the “Grand” Fire, so named because it started on Grand Terrace enters it’s fifth day of disaster. I watched from the front of StarCycle, in Lebec California on Wednesday afternoon as the blaze erupted. My photos were taken literally before first responders arrived. If you work across the street from a large truck stop you know that fire is not a good thing. The brush was very dry, as trees caught we would see billowing smoke clouds of yellow, black, white and red cover the sky. Wednesday by 3pm helicopters were buzzing low, chasing the fire as it blew away from the ridge over into Gorman. The Frazier Mountain High School was evacuated, and then the fire moved into the Hungry Valley. So far no structures have been destroyed.

Somehow even with all the pup tents and trucks, planes and helicopters I feel safe. There’s nearly two thousand firefighters here from different counties, Kern, LA and Ventura at least. Is this how it feels to be a war zone? There’s certainly something surreal about how we pass them in our cars on our way to work. The I-5 was open all weekend; attendance at the Lilac Festival was better than ever!

Have you ever heard the phrase “False Security” ? It’s the technique most of us employ to get ourselves through the day. On the one hand, how could you function if you spent your time thinking about all the possible outcomes? The stress of wondering if the market is going to go up or down, if your place of work is going to go under, if your adjustable rate mortgage is going to change, you can’t actually wrap your brain around all that. Or if you do, you end up medicating. Or you prioritize. While your brain scans a room it naturally rests on the familiar faces, and not the broken floor tile, unless you train yourself.

Certain professions, detectives, realtors, appraisers, train themselves to notice more detail than the average person. But even these people tend to filter toward what they are used to looking for. Notice the next time you tag along with someone who is buying a used car. The buyer notices all the bad things about the car, little dents, the mileage, cracks in the windshield. The seller notices all the good things, new tires, aftermarket stereo system, great gas mileage. Do you see what you want to see?

It’s a useful skill to be able to control whether the glass is half full or half empty, especially if there is nothing you can do about it at that exact moment. For example, you might think to yourself it is very annoying to not be as strong as you would like to be. You might be feeling envy on the yogi next to you. Spin that around, you could, if you so chose, be happy that you aren’t more decrepit. Seriously. This is something that is under your control. Studies show that the person with the nicest house in a lower income neighborhood feels more well off than the person with the smallest house in a more expensive neighborhood. Never mind that the value of the houses themselves run opposite. Apparently you don’t enjoy a two million dollar house as much when it’s located amidst 7 million dollar houses.

This is part the trip with 12-step groups who suggest you find something every day to be grateful for, it’s part of re-framing the picture. I’m with them in so far as it is helpful to you. But what about 

What about fires? Does it make any sense to sit around wishing and visualizing a fire to disappear? Wouldn’t it be better to call 9*1*1? Or as my friend likes to say, “If you want a chicken sandwich, at some point you have to get up and go into the kitchen.” So maybe it’s a worthwhile exercise to see things as they really are, in lieu of how you wishthey were, because with that as the goal you can plan better.

For example, it may take a year or two of yoga before you feel snap. It’s not a fast fix, it’s a slow one. So do you give up? What happens four years from now sans yoga? Will you get any stronger without it? More flexible? Gonna eat better? Start telling the truth? Or is it plan B? Is life too hard to deal with in reality, so it’s easier to hope and wish and pray and doubt and a million other mind f*ck games you can play with yourself, games you don’t win, games that leave you feeling frustrated and angry and tired.

Maybe it’s time to deal with the fire, what ever your fire is – your kid, your partner, your mortgage – because pretending whatever is happening is not happening is exactly how you got here. If you want to be somewhere else, well, you start moving! Yoga is a journey that can begin with meditation, physical exercise, pranayama, diet, ethics, devotion, music – any arm will do! Pick one! There are eight limbs to yoga, and a complete practice encompasses all of them – so what are you waiting for?

Find Peace!