I spent some time at Moonville Friday with the Zaleski Fire Department. A fire had ignited in the woods near the area and while some departments put together efforts to contain the fire, others stood by and kept watch for other dangers. It was already near dark when I arrived at the scene, and containment efforts were winding down. I stood with some of the firefighters who were keeping watch on the road near the Moonville Tunnel, as we all waited for the latest updates on the conditions in the woods.
As we waited, I noticed something falling from the sky. Further observation of the falling material revealed to me that I was standing in a shower of falling ash. I could not see the fire from where I was standing, but the smoke, the burning smell and the ash that was falling caused me to realize I was probably closer to the fire than I had thought. Suddenly I knew that if containment efforts fail, I could be in a dangerous place.
I didn’t doubt at any moment that the situation was being properly handled by the firefighters. I didn’t fear that at any point I would need to scramble to quickly remove myself from the area. I felt secure. I was safe, and I didn’t feel the need to panic. I wonder though, if the fire department hadn’t been on the scene if I would have felt the same way. Would I have jumped into my car and get out of the woods as quickly as possible if I had been alone? I am not sure what type of alternative outcome would have came if I wouldn’t have been near members of the fire department. I am thankful for the people who sacrifice their time and effort to protect people like me and keep me safe.
I think about the way I felt in the woods Friday. I wonder about my own life and the lives of those around me. How do the people who depend on me feel when they are near me. Do my kids watch the ashes fall and know they are safe because I am their father? Does the burning smell cause my loved ones to fear where they stand or do they feel comforted because I am near? When the smoke is thick and the only thing left to do is count on someone else for protection, am I the one people feel they can turn to?
My life feels like a fire sometimes. It seems that there is always a fight to protect what little I have. I think the people who are close to me can see the smoke. They can smell the fire. They watch the ashes fall when they are near me. Though some run away for fear that the fire will grow, there are those who stand in a safe place. They feel safe in spite of the proof of dangerous territory that surrounds them. I want to end the fire that burns in my life. I want to rise above the smoke clouds that roll off of my existence. I’m not going down in flames, I’m emerging from the fire. I am climbing out of a death trap that has held me bound for years. If you watch the ashes fall, don’t fear the fire, just know I have taken another step into the clear.
In the future, I hope that my children feel safe because I show no signs of destruction, rather than because I carry them through it. I want the best for my kids. Even though we have marks to prove we have been through the fire, I hope they’ll carry on without fear of that fire. If my success marks the success of my children, then I must succeed. There are no other options. The ash still falls, but the fire is behind me.