Small joys…and complicated thoughts

Yesterday I had to get up at 4:30 to catch a plane to calgary. It was cold, dark and I was cranky…stomp stomp…why do I have to travel…

As I sat on the small corporate plane the pilot mentioned the northern lights were out. They turned off the cabin lights and I sat and watched the beautiful aurora borealis dance in the dark sky, surrounded by stars. On the other side of the plane the sun was beginning to peek over the horizon.

In that moment I felt deep appreciation for my life. I was on a comfortable plane, flying across the province for a meeting,  watching the Northern lights. I was safe and secure. My life is unbelievably full of opportunity and potential.

Later that day my meeting was held near where we lived when we were evacuated. It’s funny how familiar sights start sneaky little thoughts. 

On the flight home all I could see was the burnt trees. I was stuck in those thoughts. And I undead up talking about my evacuation experience on the plane. About my intense fear when I couldn’t find cooper and craig on the highway and the fire was burning and there was so much smoke. About the feeling of displacement. Of my strong desire to never go back to fort mcmurray again and, since that time, my deep dissatisfaction that things aren’t the same as they were. 

I know that things will never be the same. I know. And I know wanting this to be different than they are is the root of suffering. But that’s how it is. I almost bask in the pain of it. It’s strange.

It’s interesting to step back and see how these varied and strong emotional states influence me. I am thankful for the moments of peace and contentment, because they are what bring me back from the episode of wallowing in self pity.i still consider I may have to move from here some days. That the natural destruction of the forest, by a fire that is really part of the natural cycle of life, might just be too much of a trigger for me. It’s possible…

But for now I step back and see the beauty that remains. And try to remember that even the burnt trees are temporary. New trees are growing. New houses are being built. New people move to town.

Different does not mean worse. Change is often good. I just can’t always see it in the moment.

Stillness and peace

Ps. Here is an illustration of the change. The same view walking up to the clubhouse at our golf course. The top is what was. It was one of the most beautiful courses…it is cut out of the trees and is along the river. The bottom is what is. Fall.

30 thoughts on “Small joys…and complicated thoughts

  1. I know that things will never be the same. I know. And I know wanting this to be different than they are is the root of suffering. But that’s how it is. I almost bask in the pain of it. It’s strange.

    I so get that Anne.. ME TOO!
    It’s not strange. It’s human.
    There was a huge disruption in your life and quite likely some PTSD that comes with that. It is amazing to be aware that suffering comes when we want something to be different than what it is….it’s a truth that many do not understand.
    But even the saints don’t get it right every time. We also have the wonderful knowledge that feelings are not facts, and that they will pass.
    And we know to keep moving forward. Sure, you might move, you might stay…but you got to see the northern lights!


    1. Thank you for that. I like knowing my thoughts aren’t just crazy…that others have them too.

      It’s a funny thing…I swear I won’t talk about he fire…and then I do…I think my work is on being ok with that. It’s so easy to be disappointed in oneself when we act human…

      Thank you!!

      1. I think it’s grieving…and I think we have to talk about it.
        I know I have to talk about my hearing loss and music now and then.
        I try not to talk about it too much, but sometimes it just pops out of my mouth, which the feelings are still close. And it’s ok.

  2. Me too lovely to this -> wanting things to be different than they are is the root of suffering. Wishing I was somewhere else and failing to appreciate what I already have feels like my challenge for this next year of sobriety xx

  3. Insight is a gift that not everyone is given….you have it in spades!!! I can’t even imagine the terror you experienced during that evacuation. It was terrifying just watching the videos. I think seeing the northern lights is so spiritual – how beautiful to have them unfold in front of you at that time!

  4. That “suffering” line resonated with me, too. “Basking” in it because .?.?.? I guess b/c sometimes staying in the pain that meets our expectations can feel wildly safer than moving out into this world that won’t stop changing on us. Solid shitty ground can feel better than shifting good ground.

    It reminds me of the line in the Black Crows song She Talks to Angels: “Yeah, she gives me a smile when the pain comes. The pain gonna make everything alright.”

    As always, thanks for the post.

  5. I sooooo wish to see the Northern lights! Wonderful. 🙂
    About your loss, I’m thinking: yes attachment means suffering, but please don’t beat yourself up over grieving. Grieving is a parting which has not been accepted. Beating yourself up over it will not deminish the parting nor will it hurry along the acceptance of it. I know it is a very unpopular opininion but I’m thinking it is OK to wallow if that is what comes up. And, yes, I realise it is also not attractive to go live in the land of Feeling Sorry continously. :-/ There is that too. But unfortunately grieve or the need (!) to ‘wallow’, do not go away by feeling stupid, guilty, ashamed or ridiculous over it. 😦 Believe me, I try every day. 😀 It doesn’t work. :-/ One can not shame oneself into unattachment. 😉
    The other side, which I think, in my not so humble opinion, should not be forgotten that you, your family and your community experienced a tremendous trauma. I read it as such that the evidence of this trauma is still around you in your living environment, visible every step you take. That in itself is huge.
    I am taking a guess that our system is not used to see such (reminders of) horror every day. An animal that gets beaten in a place never returns there, unless it finds the benefits of the place outweigh the possible dangers. As humans we tend to make these decisions not following our bodies/emotions capacity but with our mind and I am guessing most of us need to decide with our money. So put these two things together: as a result the body -which is in a state of post-trauma- is forced to accepts these constant reminders because of a normal, logical, totally culturally acceptable but possibly non-healing mind/money decission. And well from the way I wrote that down, you probably guessed that I am not really sure if the body accepts this easily. I would assume this discrepancy which I think to notice (disclaimer, disclaimer) stands in the way of acceptance. And take it one step further: I assume it actually produces non-mentionable pain and possibly the counter action to needing to being tough; needing to ‘wallow’.
    Not sure if I am ‘on spot’ or totally out of line or floating in nothingness. Please delete if needed. Does this make sense? Is it of help? I hope it is.
    Thinking now maybe you could have a conversation with your body, informing it that it is now safe to live where you are? And saying that, maybe that is exactly what I need to do with me. 🙂 Ha! Thank you! 🙂
    Hope this is of help. Sending hugs and good growing vibes to the trees.
    xx, Feeling

    1. Wow. That is exactly what I needed. Yes. There may be more body listening to do. And definitely releasing of something…
      Thank you so much for that response. It gives me more to think about.

      At lunch today someone said they loved the evacuation and wished we could get another summer off. It’s hard to comprehend that people experience things so differently, although I know they do.

      I’m going to add a photo that shows the change I see…

      Thank you so much for your views. They are deeply moving.


    2. I loved this, Feeling: “Grieving is a parting which has not been accepted.” That says it all for me. This past year or so I have finally come out of my gloom. You are right it will take its own time!

  6. I ditto other commenters on the grief aspect. I just had to add that your pictures are beautiful and so remind me of home (Pacific Northwest, north of Seattle). And I love what you said about “different is not always worse”. Sometimes it’s just different; and it’s okay to grieve the transition. 💙

  7. Sorry about the dramatic turn of events there. I too love change as root of suffering line. Change is always lined with fear, and that’s such a human normal thing, but I think that we spin it harder sometimes and create something even worse. But it’s all in the mindset and perspective, as you mentioned in the previous reply to a comment, about how someone said that they loved the evacuation. All perspective. I have to keep this in mind when something doesn’t go according to MY plan (ha ha) and remember that no matter what, all is well.

  8. What a beautiful post. Seeing the Northern lights is one of my biggest dreams:) Trauma isn’t experienced once it comes in waves. I love the way you can notice and sit with the thoughts. Thank you for sharing xxx

  9. I remember and can’t even begin to imagine. You come through loud and clear as one incredibly strong and resilient woman. With powerful insights and wisdom. Thank you for sharing this. Hugs.

  10. I am finding myself drawn back to an event that I (hopelessly) want to change, and what you wrote here speaks exactly to what is happening with me:

    “I know that things will never be the same. I know. And I know wanting this to be different than they are is the root of suffering. But that’s how it is. I almost bask in the pain of it. It’s strange.”

    What is it that makes me relive that pain?I think I’m arguing with what is, because right now, I see only destruction in what happened. Accepting what is will be my challenge going forward.

    Thanks for this, Anne. 💕

  11. After I went through a series of traumas, someone said to me ” you will never get over it, but you will get used to it”. I found that strangely comforting. When the old feelings float up I indulge them for a bit and accept that they will always be there, and it seems that once those voices have been heard,they fade away. It has only been a little over a year since you,your family and community were thrown into turmoil. It’s pretty fresh….be kind to yourself.

    1. Exactly! Loss is loss…and grief is grief.

      You wrote:I feel like I should be past grief…but I am clearly not

      There is no timetable. Just because you ended up safe does not lessen the very very frightening experience you had. Do be kind to yourself, as was said, and do NOT judge yourself for your feelings and reactions. Just….let it be. And slowly, it will BE better, less raw, less painful.

    1. Do you live in Vegas?
      It’s one of our favourite cities.
      We were just at the life is beautiful concert. I read last night that may have been the original target and it leaves me fearful and full of dread…
      My heart hurts for the world. I know my role is to keep remembering love is the answer.
      Big hug and lots and lots of love to you.

      1. Yes I do and I read that as well. So scary and just mind blowing that someone, another human, can be capable of something like that.

  12. Your Northern Lights moment sounds absolutely amazing, I’d love to see them too. The reminder about wanting things to be different than they are being the cause of suffering is so spot on. It’s such as simple, logical concept but so absolutely difficult to remember and live by. Beautiful post Anne x

  13. I know this is an incredibly late comment – I’ve been wrapped in my day to day life, with moving continents and all.

    I’m sure now, a month on you are feeling very different, but just wanted to check in. That must have been incredible seeing the Northern Lights. Remembering the passing of everything, that new will come, helps me get me through so much. I can only imagine the intense emotions that that situation would have brought you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s