The Benefits of an Emergency

How a Wildfire put My Life into Perspective…

I’m a naturally cheerful Pollyanna-esque person *most of the time*, but I am human, too. And last week, when a beast of a fire raged perilously close to our home, waking us at 3.45am in an unexpected burst of fight or flight (jump into the sea or chance the highway in the car), positivity went pretty pear-shaped.


We were out of the house with two frightened kids, water, passports, inhalers, wet tea towels, and money in about 7 minutes – I will confess to grabbing my make-up bag too (I know, some habits die hard and I was sprinting past the bathroom). The above hastily grabbed photo is what greeted us at the top of our urbanisation. We were lucky. Very lucky. Minutes after we fled, police sirens wailed around our complex for everybody to get the hell out. Thankfully, my husband woke to an insane bonfire smell, shook us out of our sleep and ran for the car to bring it closer to the house so we could escape.

It’s unbelievable to think that four hours later we could return home, particularly since 54 hectares went up in smoke, particularly since fire planes and helicopters are prohibited from operating in the night here in Spain. The firefighters were our Guardian Angels that night; ours and many other residents’ and holidaymakers’. Other than a generous coating of soot and ash, and no power for two days thanks to the mangling of the power cables, we, and our house, were unscathed. Amazingly nobody got hurt in this fire – other than emotionally. It’s definitely harder to settle at night, harder still to get back to sleep when you catch a whiff of the charcoal remains in the air and the wind has changed direction, reminding you of the vast crater on the other side of the road.

And yet, there are gifts to be found:

-The community rallying together and strangers becoming friends.
-A renewed appreciation for the simple things in life like running water and a roof over your head.
-A carpe diem attitude having come so close to potential death.


Don’t get me wrong, I was (and still am) incandescent with rage that presumed drug traffickers could put so many peoples’ lives in danger for their selfish needs (to create a smokescreen and exchange gear while the rest of us panic). I don’t have enough expletives. I also don’t have enough concrete proof that this is the definitive version of events… although the mysterious 4 x 4 hauled from the sea on our beach that very afternoon – with all its backseats ripped out – is dubious to say the least. I still have my moments of anger, especially when my daughter starts to panic. She already suffers from anxiety, and none of this has helped.

But then like a cork holding itself under water, sure and naturally enough, I bounce back up again and look for the good. That’s just me. I have an innate need to reach for one better feeling thought at a time until my vibe is higher again and life is looking rosy.

Later that week, and earlier this week, I didn’t hesitate to take a couple of the aforementioned carpe diem-style opportunities that ‘just happened’ to come my way. Out of everything good comes something bad. My irrational fears have gone up in a puff of smoke, and I’d like to think I’ll use this perspective again and again when they rear their ugly heads.

Sometimes we need to experience what fight or flight is really inhabiting our DNA for…


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