With the fires taking hold around the Nelson Tasman region this past week, people have been tested to the very core of their being. Whilst there has been a lot of fear, there has also been a deep gratitude and appreciation of blessings.
On a personal level, I experienced a huge awareness about myself in the way I cope with danger and perceived judgement. I also learnt I am far more capable than I give myself credit for.
What Emerged From The Fire
With a feeling of dread and fear, on Friday afternoon I stood watching out the office window as a fire rushed up a nearby hill. I recognised the volatility of the situation and the potential threat to my home in the next valley. However, despite this I remained quietly in the moment, completely aware of what I needed to do in order to not buy into unnecessary drama or negative emotion. I could feel it rippling up inside me but I didn’t want to fuel it.
I was thankful for the work in front of me. It enabled me to distance myself from my cyclical thoughts which would normally take me down a path of the worst case scenario. I was no use to anyone when this happened.
The Urge to Do Something
I phoned home to advise my partner of the fire on the hill. There was a potential risk that with a sudden change in wind direction the fire could affect our home. Apart from phoning to raise the alert, I realised there was little else I was able to do.
I wrestled with my mind. I was tempted to get on my bike and peddle home. However, it would be a futile effort. It takes over half and hour up the hill to arrive at the bottom of our steep driveway. Furthermore, it takes me a further twenty minutes to climb to the top of the driveway on a good day.
If I had ridden home, and if our valley had been affected by the fire, I would have become a burden to those fighting the blaze. I perceived no benefit in heroics. Therefore I chose to remain in the office keeping my panic at bay. I decided this would be the most practical and helpful option in that given moment.
As I sat contemplating the situation, a feeling of guilt surfaced within me. I started condemning myself for focussing on my work instead of devoting my energy to worry. I judged myself for not doing enough.
Not Helpless or Hopeless
A few people had commented on the potential risk to our valley. Some asked what I was going to do. Others insisted I needed to get home immediately. “Aren’t you worried?” Somehow I interpreted their words as a judgement of my decision to stay put. I felt heavy with guilt because I wasn’t doing anything.
My partner told me a few times I would be useless in an emergency. If I had given in to the worry and recklessly peddled home, I would have proven this judgement to be correct. Furthermore, if I had given in to those cyclical thoughts of panic, I would also have proven him right. However, last week I demonstrated my ability to function well in an emergency.
I managed my emotional responses. I recognised that even in the thick of a dire situation I still had the power of choice. Furthermore, in the event of an emergency I was able to focus on a task, and make rational yet difficult decisions.
Whilst the fire that ignited on that hill last week was a horrible event to witness and even more horrific to those living on that hill, it was also a wonderful gift in many ways. Not only was I thankful for my personal lesson, I also felt so much gratitude for the skill of the helicopters, spotter planes available to quickly attend to the situation, and all of those crews fighting the fires.
Feature photo courtesy of Pixabay.