Sunday, June 24, 2012
Things to Do When the Sky Falls
I dreamt of water last night. Soft drizzle, summer rainbows. A fire is burning near my house. Many of my friends have evacuated from their homes as this fire is less than 24 hours old and is already more than 2,000 acres strong. The irony is not lost on me. In your dreams, your house represents your life. And even in my sleep, I'm fighting for mine. In situations like this, where you are not evacuated but are not a fire fighter, are not a nurse or care provider, are not a mother or otherwise responsible for the lives of others, this time can feel the worst. Watching. Waiting. Hoping. Offering help, asking for ways to help, and twiddling your thumbs. If you are evacuated, you are similarly idle. Perhaps worried and unable to rest, or riding the emotional roller coaster of an unplanned and undesired shift in your life. If you are safely out of the evacuation zone for any crisis (and feel free to extrapolate this into areas of your life that are perhaps more relevant) I suggest any of the following: 1. Check in with the news media periodically, but not constantly. It can drain your energy to hear only the most sensational news. Set a time when you will check in, and take time away. Perhaps trade duties with friends if you are near the evacuation zone. You listen from 1-2, I'll listen from 2-3 etc. 2. Find and support your people. If you are part of a community, a book club, a social circle, an alumni support network, check in with those folks first and see if they need your help. 3. Hone your skill and look for ways to use it. Do you have a way to offer your service? This might be easy if you own an animal shelter or restaurant, but look for other ways to support. Perhaps you can offer your service to those providing direct service? 4. Fill your birdbath with water. Refill your bird seed. Be kind to displaced and frustrated animals. 5. Call your mother (or other friend/relative who is probably worrying about you or just misses you and will keep your mind occupied). This counts as doing something. 6. Imagine what you might take with you if faced to leave. Notice everything that remains. These are the things that others left behind. Offer what you can if you are living in a state of overwhelm and find you have too many water glasses or sandals. 7. Take some time to cultivate quiet energy. Maybe this means meditation, prayer, or simply thinking good thoughts or listening to inspiring and calming music. I believe that we can affect the energy around us, because I believe in physics. 8. Prepare your home as though you are having guests (because maybe you will). Make ice. Make up the spare bed. Plan some meals. Maybe you'll get a guest and maybe you'll just be able to take meals to those who are helping others. 9. Do not detach from the crisis around you, turn to alcohol or cable television. Be aware and cultivate the calm you can by practicing yoga, running, crafting, or otherwise being mindful. 10. Dream of rain.