I mentioned yesterday that I travelled to north Texas and witnessed the wildfires. They weren’t real to me until I saw them. Now, though I am not in the path of danger, I feel oddly attached to the situation.
This is a picture I took just north of Strawn.
I thought it was unbelievable, but I’m realizing now that this picture is really nothing compared to the vastness of the problem. This morning, someone in my office circulated a link
to more photos, all of which are far more startling than what I saw driving on the open roads. The news
is reporting more than 1.6 million acres burned and 240 homes destroyed, and they still don’t have the fires contained. Texas is burning. It is literally smoking hot and up in flames.
It frightens me that a shift in the winds could mean that the wildfires spread in new directions. At the same time, I am comforted that a bit of rain could mean they are stalled and perhaps put out. The situation can change – for better or worse – in an instant. As I obsess about these fires, I’m realizing that this is true for life in general. Things can change at any time.
I recently read Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking, which I loved. Didion writes about the year after her husband’s unexpected death. He died in their home. They were doing normal things one moment, and he was gone the next.
Good can turn painful in no time. People die. Marriages fail. Pregnancies end. Jobs are lost. Investments sour. Friendships fizzle. I can get bogged down in this negativity – this expectation that something bad might happen at any moment. But the flip side is true also. Situations can improve in an instant. The sick are healed. People find love. Children are born. Jobs are found. Money is made. Old friends are reunited.
What happens does not always make sense. I cannot always wrap my mind around what’s going on in the world or in my world. I cannot wrap my mind around these wildfires. But I am comforted knowing that any situation, including the situation in north Texas, can improve in an instant. I hold firmly to that hope.