This Hard Thing is Worth Doing

The Setting

I write this on Thursday, four days after the lightening siege, the aftermath of which we are still witness to.

Yesterday, a red sun rose as ash slowly sifted through the air landing on our flowers, our furniture and our concerns. I called my aunt to see if they were already evacuated. Light filtered through the smoke and harvest dust until the late morning, creating a yellow glow in each of the windows, moving our moods closer and closer to their edge. Though there was no smell of smoke, my head began to ache after the necessary time outside watering the garden and clipping ripe flowers.

Today the sky is a white mass, clouded over with smoke. The scent hangs heavy burning eyes and itching throats. Individuals rake the almonds away from the trees, sending tufts of light brown dust around their heavily clothed bodies and covered faces.

Though the window I see my husband move the last wheelbarrow of fungal-infested garden cuttings, which amounted to most of the annuals. I cut the plants down to their bases, above the nodes, hoping they will grow again. After a weekend of mental preparation, I found myself able to let it go.

We await news from family members, news outlets and the Cal Fire map. The governor declared a state of emergency. We seem to live in a perpetual state of emergency this year.

When the year began, I felt moved more and more to turn my gaze from facing out the windows, to inward where my children are.

Pressing Forward On the Journey

COVID or not, life must continue.

Smoke in the air or not, harvest must continue.

Headache or not, the school day must continue.

Just when we had made the most of outdoor gatherings, a haze settled in around us. Just as a sense of safety creeped in, the news headlines burst.

This time, with all its light-filtering distortion, is one moment of the journey, one chapter in the book, one season of our lives.

You Can Decide

With an external locus of control an individual sees the power of things as outside his control, it is done to him. An internal local of control means I am the agent. I can decide, not what happens, but how I respond to it, and my response to it changes the narrative. You can determine how this story will play out. The hero is the ordinary player in the story who faces a challenge, faces it bravely and continues his journey. He is heroic not because he is extraordinary, but because has found a way through extraordinary circumstances.

Four years ago, the business of my life felt like the global circumstances now, one crisis after another. Facing family illness and tragedy it was the same matter. What could I have control over? I could not stop the events we faced. Despite the temptation that inevitably comes with heartache, it does no good to look for who to blame. Guilt and shame have no place in crisis management. We must face the world as it is now, and decide what are we going to do about it.

You can Get Stuck

Opening our eyes, we look around and see the potential paths before us. I can waste time looking back. I can waste time thinking, “what if this had never happened?” I can waste time thinking, “what could I have done differently?”

Those thought exercises could be done as productive reflections to better whatever outcome comes next, or they could be done in a sorrowful mood, regretful, anxious, mourning what cannot be again. It is only then that they waste time.

You Can Be The Hero

What comes next for you as you walk through these extraordinary circumstances? How will you embrace your role as the hero of your story, carrying out your duty, faithfully supporting those who rely on you, making the world a better, more beautiful place? The answer to this question becomes your legacy, where even the lives that seem smallest are stories worth telling.

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