It is amazing how quickly life can change. When the Thomas Fire hit the hills above our community on December 4th, many people in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties had already been displaced by mandate or by choice. For Californians, the act of packing up and evacuating, has sadly become the norm, as it brings back memories of the Tea Fire and the Jesusita Fire, and the half dozen fires we’ve experienced just over the past 10 years. I am awe-struck with the mobilization that took place, with over 8,400 firefighters courageously making their way onto the front line to fight this beast.
During the evacuation period, I was very disjointed with the disruption of my daily routine and felt a sudden void of inner balance. I expect each of us is coping in our own best way, but what’s eye opening when natural disasters occur, is that we very quickly take inventory of what we are grateful for. The things that matter most become so clear. For me that is the time I had with my family and in-laws while evacuated up North in Paso Robles. We played board games, cards, corn hole, and talked around the dinner table late into the night. A much needed respite from work and the temptation to check social media.
I believe it will take a lot of time, money, and national resources to heal from the enormous destruction of Thomas, and I find myself extremely worried about its impact on our local economy. But I also believe that gratitude can be found in the mess, because the fire broke preconceived boundaries between our neighbors, strangers, and the tireless first responders. In a time where society feels sadly divided, our community came together with one common goal, safety for everyone.
I wish you and your family a Blessed Holiday!