wading in it

It seems like, lately, there has been no shortage of things to remind me that life is excruciatingly short.  I’ve had my fair share of personal kicks to the head recently.  Too many, for my taste.  But I’m getting better and will be better for it, so that’s a good thing.  I believe that these challenges really just bring out the best in people, and that the end result is always what needed to happen.  But, sometimes, things just happen for no good reason.  Sometimes, you have to grab your meaning out of thin air and hope it’s enough to make the rest of it okay.

This week’s events haven’t been easy on me–both mentally and physically.

If you’ve spent even five seconds with me, you know I have a kinda undying love for my state.  It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth, truly.  But the last couple of years have been hard for us.  You’d have to live in some hovel of a cave not to know why.  Most people think Colorado’s this green, snow-ridden state bursting with natural beauty.  That can sometimes be true.  But, mostly, we are dry as a bone.  Every year, it seems to get worse.  Last year, it literally felt like the entire state was on fire.  Friends of mine lost the homes they grew up in.  It was devastating.  Even after the fires were gone, the drought that started most of it left some of my favorite places completely wrecked.  I remember going to Silver Thread for my birthday and not recognizing it.  It broke my heart to see so many people hurting and the aftermath of all that loss.

This past fall & winter, the seasons came late.  But, when they did, we got decent precip.  I think we were all praying this season would be different.  But almost to the exact one year anniversary, more fires–this time in my beloved RMNP.  Then news of fire in Aurora–four homes burned down–and then Royal Gorge and then the Black Forest and even Pueblo.  All in a matter of hours.  Just over a year ago, I took pictures of the sunrise from Royal Gorge.  We were on our way to Santa Fe.  I sat next to the carousel and waited as my roomie crossed the bridge for the first time in his life.  I remembered jumping off the bridge the year my Mama passed.  It was a place of healing for me–of facing fears and proving to myself that I could do anything I wanted to do.  And now, everything except that bridge is gone.  Only charred wooden slats remain, and everything surrounding it looks like a war zone.

Comparatively, Royal Gorge is nothing when you look at the Black Forest fire.  379 homes lost so far, with only 5% containment.  2 people died trying to leave–found in their driveway.  So many displaced.  The worst fire in the history of this great state.  And you wonder what will happen next.  When will it end?  Who will be next?

It rained ash on Wednesday.  My throat is hoarse from breathing it in yesterday.  You can’t forget it.  It’s inside you.

And yet, I know from past experiences with these fires, that Mother Nature rebuilds.  Earlier this year, I toured the burn area in RMNP from last year’s fire…the one that burned for months and forced all the animals out–so that most trips to the park were devoid of much more than birds.  It’s stunning and one of my favorite areas of the park now.  The animals returned, and while somewhat swampy and barren–there’s so much lush green.  As if the landscape was burnt clean to make room for a whole new reality.

I guess this is the circle of life.

I am reminded this again today after hearing the news that Nelson Mandela has passed.  Mandela was always one of my heroes.  I don’t have many of them, but he was one…right up there with Anne Frank.  We don’t have many leaders who put their lives on the line–who make massive sacrifices for the good of people.  But Mandela was one of those people, and he was an inspiration every day.  He was walking courage.  I am so sad that we won’t have him here to counteract the cowards “leading” now.  It’s hard to reconcile how the Great Whatever justifies keeping them and taking him.

Despite all of this, I feel strangely good about my own life…like I ventured through some crossroads and that I found courage for myself.  My life is better than it was two weeks ago, for sure.  And I realize that I have an opportunity to change a lot of things–for myself and others…to make sense of ruins and let go of what I no longer need.

UPDATE:

Sounds like Nelson Mandela is, thankfully, still alive.  I’d delete what I wrote about it, but it still bears saying.

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