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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Musings on the Sobering Reality of Natural Disaster

Texas is on fire, and I'm not referring to the heat (which has, oddly, been bearable this week). According to my lunchtime perusal through CNN headlines, some part of our state has been burning for 300 days straight, and the Bastrop fires are the most recent and devastating. Since the blaze began on Sunday, 34,000 acres have become engulfed in flames and nearly 600 homes lost. My heart goes out to those who have lost property and pets during these trying times. 

Just Saturday Brian and I were talking about going to Bastrop State Park of all places to savor the fall-like weather we've been so desperate to enjoy after Austin's hottest summer on record. We drank our coffee on the patio and enjoyed the breeze, contemplating how we would collect baby and dog for a hike to welcome the new season. But word of the fire spread as quickly as the flames, and we watched in horror as the local media told of new destruction, updating their numbers in 30-minute intervals (and yet I could sense them subconsciously rubbing their hands together like flies before a feast, for a good story means payday, especially at the local level). We were left discussing what we would take if we were forced to evacuate, later learning that most people weren't given enough time to do more than save themselves and flee to Walmart parking lots and cheap motels to grieve for the loss of all they know.

Smoke Over Austin, photo credit: Deanna Roy

And as with all times of tragedy, I'm left to think about the very nature of, well, nature. She is a fickle friend (and we've treated her pretty badly over the years, so I can't blame her). I'm left feeling small and insignificant and completely vulnerable to whatever Mother Nature throws us next. I'm left to think about how quickly our lives can change, and I understand for the first time why people so desperately cling to faith and religion, for it feels a lot better to believe that it all happens for a reason and that there's someone looking out for us in the end. I can't say I'll ever jump in line behind that mentality, but I've also never truly experienced the pain of losing that which is most important to me, so it's hard to say where I'll stand if I ever do. And most importantly, I'm left utterly appreciative for my family, my home, and the comfort I take for granted every second I complain about my mundane workweek or the morning traffic. 

So hug your babies, call your mom, and sit back tonight with a glass of wine and feeling of satisfaction that you've likely got it pretty good…who knows what hurricane will blow through next week (though we could use the rain).