I already commented on the Northern California fires. I told you some of what I felt and how I let it work for my good while I waited to see if the fires would reach me or not.
It also allowed me to do something else.
Change my opinion.
Or, rather, my perspective.
We are all equal when natural disasters look at us.
Hurricanes destroy the rich and the poor. Fires burn the athlete and the old in age with dementia. Earthquakes split highways regardless of whether there are black people or white people, Native Americans or Asians, navigating them.
A flame doesn’t look at someone, their life, their behaviors, decisions, bank account, yada, yada, yada. A flame doesn’t look at you. It burns you.
But natural disasters give you a lot of room to grow. Everyone knows we learn best from pain, whether it be emotional, physical, or a combination.
I heard about a man with fireman equipment at his home and was capable of keeping the fire away. Instead, he helped the people without vehicles that he could see wouldn’t be able to make it out of the fire’s path on their own.
A woman lost her entire house, counted herself amazingly blessed to have family in town to live with (keep in mind she still lost all of her and her family’s hard worked for belongings), and spent the rest of the fire helping mothers and their infants to whatever they needed from her shop in town, free of charge.
People, where I live who were untouched by the fire, took time to listen to people’s stories, grieve with them, spending time with them. We donated clothing and plushies, time and love.
I decided to stop seeing only my pain.
And start seeing, appreciating, and focusing on my joy.
It’s no secret, I have a lot of medical issues. I was recently diagnosed with a new one, one that proved more challenging than all my others, and equally intent on staying.
I’ve been focusing on how much I can’t do. How I can’t keep a full-time job. Ways I cannot help people in life.
After the fires – no, during the fires, I realized real solidly how negative that was.
So, I stopped. I’d already been working on it, but the fires really woke me up.
I can help.
I do work.
I care about people and I can find my callings in life. Just because I’m not physically able to do the jobs most people can doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It means I get to do some other things. We all have things we excel at. Time for me to find mine instead of ‘boo-hoeing’ on not excelling at what others do.
I can become who I am, joyfully. Validated by myself, my conscious, and my Higher Power.
Instead of looking at who I can’t be, all that I can’t do, and wringing my hands in despair.
Be actively grateful.
For me, there’s a difference between being grateful and really acting grateful.
To me, it’s the difference between two people.
The person who says they have so much to be grateful for (but typically only list off the same five or so and don’t really seem to feel what they’re saying) and then go right back to complaining about all the wrongs in their life. They don’t want to make changes. The focus on the bad things in their life and/or health.
Don’t get me wrong. We all have reasons. But that doesn’t make them excuses not to do what we can do.
Being positive, focusing on the good instead of only on what’s horribly wrong in life, is something we can all do.
The second person is someone who understands this. Recognizes their limitations and does what they can. And they do it well. They excel at it because they try. They aim to find what all they can do and enjoy doing it, while coping with the illnesses and pains they have in life. They find what is wrong in their world and if they can, they take steps to change it.
I want to become more like this second person.
I’ve been in a limbo in-between them for quite some time now. Not complaining but not really searching for the positive.
And so I have. Become positive. Grateful.
I can jog, write, read, play with my dog, communicate in meaningful ways with my family and friends because my legs work, I have the proper coordination, I’m not blind, not deaf, not mute. I’m not missing limbs. I’m not eating through a tube. I’m not in a hospital bed. I don’t have cancer, I live in a country with running hot water and refrigerators, ovens and laptops. I have a solid roof over my head and air conditioning and a heater. I have so much.
How often do I really count my blessings?
I heard this slam poetry kinda thing earlier this week and I loved it. The last thing the poet said really struck me.
“You are alive. Act like it.”
I don’t think we’re really acting like it if we have a ‘poor me’, ‘look at all this horrible stuff in my life’ attitude.
Look at all the beauty. The opportunities for change. Look at all the good.