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The fires are improving bit by bit, but for those who have lost their homes – 346 in Colorado Springs alone, so far – the pain and loss and immense task of rebuilding is just beginning. I gave them this rainbow to show them that, yes, there is hope.
Quote of the day: ““No single event can awaken within us a stranger whose existence we had never suspected. To live is to be slowly born.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The milkweed seed that floated alongside me on my walk from the bus tonight
That the fires are improving
With any disaster, be it natural or manmade, empaths (like me) have a broad-spectrum struggle.
We take the “can’t look away from the train wreck” mentality to the extreme, studying and following the most minute details so closely that we embed the event within our souls.
I have often questioned why I do this. Who benefits? I do not outwardly share the pain I experience as a result of this empathy, so I am not doing it for any self-gratification or to attract attention from people around me. That’s not how empaths function anyway. I wouldn’t dream of comparing my empathic experience to those who are directly impacted by something like the Waldo Canyon fire – the people who have lost their homes, the firefighters who are wearily yet steadily fighting what must at times feel like an incredibly discouraging and losing battle.
Given the rampage of fires within close proximity to me and places that I love here in Colorado, you might imagine that I’ve spent some time thinking about this. I suppose I’ve come up with some vague and unconfirmed answers.
I draw energy into myself. I transform it and expend it back into the universe. It’s like breathing. Like pulling something from the air, and turning it into something more peaceful and sending it back out. The energy I pull in comes from the air itself, from the fire, from the heat, from the silent, or not so silent cries of people who are suffering, from their own energetic emissions of pain, fear, and loss. I breathe in the negative energy, I breathe out the positive energy. I absorb the negative energy and transform it into life force energy. That sounds a little uber-woo-woo, even for me. I guess it’s hard to find the words. I try to soothe others by taking on their energetic pain.
This unconscious exercise – and it is unconscious, second nature for me - is wearisome, yet rewarding. It’s like giving a gift with no idea who the recipient will be, or how it will benefit them, just knowing that it will. But my body and spirit exhaust themselves, even as they are enriched by the process.
I am like a sponge, absorbing the energetic pain of people I will never see, pain that I just pick up from the winds, pain that I intuit from pictures.
And at the same time, I throw psychic energy at the flames, in an attempt to stop them. This enters into the realm of magical thinking, which any therapist worth his or her salt will tell you is not beneficial in any way to anyone. But a belief in magic and the powers of the unseen world are part and parcel of being an empath. While I do not think that my thoughts alone can stop (or start) a fire, I do wonder if the collective healing energy sent directly into the universe by people can impact something like a fire. I suppose Christians would translate that into the power of prayer. Although from the Buddhist perspective, I should know that things like this are beyond my control, and I should just be with it, doing what I can to help.
Fire, especially a wildfire, has its own unique energy, its own life force, highly connected with nature. In many cases – such as the Flagstaff Fire in Boulder and (hopefully) the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs – such fires are sparked by nature and fed by nature, and it is a challenge for man to contain them. Fires draw their strength from trees and brush, from wind and the heat of the air, all this natural energy that feeds it and that it in turn emits – a balance within itself. I believe that empaths, who are sensitive to both the energy of nature and the energy of man, pick up very strongly on that entity that is a fire. We absorb some of its energy as well, and are disturbed by the very violence of its nature. Combine that with how we pick up on the energy of people who are suffering and you have a thick energetic pudding that we find ourselves swimming in.
It’s tough to keep your head above the surface when you’re swimming in pudding.
We have our own fire burning here in Boulder now, which is scary in itself, but Colorado Springs looks like the apocalypse has arrived. It is heartbreaking and terrifying. Tonight’s sunset opened a glimpse of heaven. I wanted to share it with you. Tomorrow, I’ll share some more images of our fire.
Quote of the day: “Once upon a time, man had a love affair with fire.” – Robert McCammon
All our firefighters working so very, very hard
My new protective eye
A reminder that it’s not ALWAYS too hot here. On days like this, we long for summer. But on days like today, I hope this brings my fellow heat-sufferers a cooling memory.
Quote of the day: “If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through, it will blow up everything in its way.” – Emile Zola
The girls on the path this morning running with their ponytails swinging in sync
Red Stripe beer
That MKL is home
That at least one or two fires are contained
It feels like all of Colorado is burning. I know this is a factual exaggeration, but if you are here, it seems to be true. The High Park fire, near Fort Collins, has burned over 82,000 acres. The smoke from that fire, north of here, is sometimes strong in my town, and the skies are often hazy.
Yesterday, the Waldo Canyon fire started about 30 miles from where Kelsea and I were staying in Cripple Creek. The smoke was acrid where we were, burning our noses, eyes, and throats, making us cough, making it hard to breathe. Attendance at Donkey Derby Days had dropped significantly, with people trying to figure out how to get out. The highway into Colorado Springs was closed, and the alternate routes were unfamiliar and took unseasoned travellers far out of the way of wherever their final destination may have been.
We left after the Dog Show, and decided to see how far into Woodland Park we could get, making it to the WalMart before we were turned back.
Here’s the view of the fire from the Woodland Park WalMart parking lot:
We turned around and headed down Hwy. 67 towards Deckers, and had gotten just around Turtle Creek when Kelsea said, “Is that smoke?” I didn’t see it, so I thought it might be just blown over from the Waldo Canyon fire, but sure enough about a mile onward, we saw had a clear view to the south, and saw this:
Kelsea called 911 and was told there were already crews on the way. Our question is, what crews? Fully half of the NATION’s wildfire fighting resources are already deployed to existing Colorado fires, and there are huge fires burning in New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona as well. By the time we had driven another mile, and pulled over on a high spot, we saw this:
Trees were starting to pop like firecrackers. And the wind was picking up and moving our direction. We were about a mile from the fire. I decided we should head on, because that just seems like a good idea when a fire is heading your way. But we stood there watching for a bit, near tears. It hurts to watch such beauty burn.
By the time we got to Pine, we heard that they had closed the road behind us. We had passed quite a few cars clearly packed with as much of their possessions as they could carry, and the atmosphere at Zola’s, where we stopped for burgers, was markedly subdued. In fact, we were unusually quiet and pensive, both wishing there was something we could do. We are both warm bodies, and would both be willing to go toe to toe with a wildfire.
I’m home now, and the wind is high, the skies are churning and greenish, thunder is rumbling, and I just unwisely finished watching “Twister”. Fire trucks and emergency vehicles are racing past my house. To quote Puglet, no idea.
But please say a prayer for all of those who are being impacted by the combined wrath of Mother Nature and carelessness of man – who knows which is the cause of such destruction.
The verdict in the molestation trial of Jerry Sandusky is in: Guilty.
I read Yahoo Sports writer Dan Wetzel’s article just after breakfast. His previous articles about the case have been fair and shown no bias, which in itself marks him as an excellent journalist, particularly in the sports universe, which often rushed to the defense of its heroes and legends when their worthiness is challenged. With this article, it was as if Mr. Wetzel had let a dam burst. There is no mistaking his personal feelings about this case. And I admire him for expressing them.
I am glad that Sandusky’s victims have found some justice. What happened to them can never be undone, and has left permanent scars but perhaps this gives them an opportunity to live somewhat more peacefully with those scars, knowing their stories have been told, and believed. They have been vindicated.
My own reaction to this verdict has fascinated me. This man is guilty. And yet, somehow, when I read the verdict, I felt a strum of guilt, sorrow, and doubt in myself. Like my childhood self remembering how I must have been mistaken about what was happening, how I should respect and pity my abuser, how it was me that was crazy, not him – not an old grandfatherly figure. Shit.
This has stirred up a lot of stuff for me. How we protect our abusers by our silence, and how we are mentally manipulated by them so that the concept of right and wrong is twisted into something like a cheap candelabra pulled from the ruins of an incredibly hot fire.
I am not one to revel in the misfortunes of others, even when they brought those misfortunes – and this guilty verdict – upon themselves. Perhaps I should find more peace in justice. Perhaps part of my own issue is that my abuser died before I (or anyone else) could confront him. And his sins died with him, except in the minds and souls of those others (and I’m sure there were other, not just me) that he abused. There was no justice there.
I guess I will have to think on this some more.
I originally wrote the post below about Dottie Sandusky on November 10, 2011, and it stirred up a small hornet’s nest of controversy – people saying that I was defending Dottie Sandusky, that I was being unfair to the victims, that I was a narrow-minded ass and an idiot. Well, as I maintained during those debates, we are all entitled to our opinion, and I stand by that belief.
As the Jerry Sandusky trial is wrapping up, and Dottie Sandusky has testified in defense of her husband, the feelings I had when I originally wrote this post have risen to the surface of my consciousness again. On a rational and clinical level, I understand the titanic depths of denial thought patterns in a situation like this. However, having followed the testimony of the victims, I have a somewhat increased sense of disappointment, outrage, and childlike bewilderment about this kind of denial. Not only does it minimize the victims’ experiences, it feels like a desperate act of self-preservation on the part of a woman who sees her world crumbling and will do anything to try to save it, regardless of the cost. Wouldn’t we all? I don’t know. It depends on our individual strength of character and moral courage.
As a childhood victim of a molester, I saw the denial that my parents experienced. Were they culpable? My child’s mind thought so – because I expressed in every way I could that I did not want to be around my molester – every way except telling them what was going on. I was too embarrassed, too ashamed, and too confused. Which sounds a lot like what Sandusky’s victims said about themselves and which is now enabling a clever defense attorney to call their testimony into question, in a large part because those feelings made them hold back the truth for so long.
I know what I think is right in this case, and perhaps it is colored by my own experience. But so be it. It takes true courage to admit to being a victim and not spend your life living as one.
November 10, 2011: Thinking of Dottie Sandusky
I don’t follow sports. I don’t have any connections at Penn State. I don’t even know how I became aware in the last several days of the atrocious acts that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky committed on who knows how many young boys over the past 20 years. My heart aches for the victims. I know a little about how they feel. I remember being a victim myself.
But in all this publicity, the perpetrator hasn’t spoken. He’s free on a reasonable amount of bail. What’s he doing? Spending a lot of time with lawyers, obviously, and supporters, certainly. Note that I did not make the totally inappropriate remark about athletic supporters – oh wait, I just did. He can’t be strolling around Happy Valley with his head held high. Can he? Or can he truly be secluding himself in his home, with his wife of heaven knows how many years? Can he really? Which brings us to the point of my post.
As my heart aches for Sandusky’s young victims, it aches for his wife. What must this woman be feeling? Shame, anger, disbelief, rage, humiliation, shock, nausea, betrayal, bewilderment, devastation are just a few of the emotions that come to mind. What do you do when suddenly you discover that the man you married and loved and helped all these years is a person you don’t even know? And someone you would consider a monster if you did not know them?
It must be impossible for her to believe it, despite the evidence. And I know that, at this point, she is looking at every moment of their life together and wondering. Did she really know and just turn a blind eye? Did she miss all the signs? Does this fact make x,y, and z make sense now? How could she have been so gullible? Such a fool?
These are the things she is thinking privately. She may not voice these kinds of thoughts to anyone. And barely even to herself. To friends and family, I imagine she is still displaying the stong, supportive wife-face she has worn for years. The face that says, “I don’t believe a word of this, and I am standing by my man.” She has perhaps raged at her husband – or perhaps not. She’s not of an era when women did that, for any cause.
People have asked, “How could she have not known? It had to have been obvious, or at least suspicious.” But no, it is entirely possible that she did not know, did not see, did not believe. Sociopaths – which is what child molesters are – are extremely charming and excellent at the art of deception. And when you love someone and have built your life around them, you are predisposed to believe what they tell you. When you know someone as a man who has looked after kids in various capacities for years – and raised the ones you adopted together – then the trips, the phone calls, the bedtime companionship in the basement room, seem like pure fatherly activities. And pedophiles can – and do – raise families without victimizing their own children – sometimes.
The one thing I know is that this woman is a victim in a whole different way. And for that, my heart goes out to her.
The fact that my Mother had Alzheimer’s when she died niggles at my swiss-cheesy brain sometimes.
I have always said that I have a mind like a steel sieve, especially since that unfortunate head injury on Easter Sunday some 20 years ago. (Only Tug, the best dog in the universe, was there to witness it, and he took my secret to the Rainbow Bridge.) But sometimes, I am more aware of my inability to retain things than at other times. It’s been an interesting adjustment for MKL, who has the memory of an elephant (and elephants have 10 1/2 pound brains with large, multiple-fold temporal lobes). He must be frustrated by the apparent empty space between my ears. He’s a grand storyteller, and often says, “Do you remember when I told you about….” or “I think I shared with you….” My unfortunate response is (way too often) “I don’t remember that!” On the plus side, it means that most things are new over and over again, and for me, that’s okay. But I do hate that it seems like I haven’t been listening to him, because I have. I love love love his voice. And his stories.
While I have grown comfortable with my forgetfulness, my brain is offering up a new twist lately – mistaking words. For example, on a Comcast commercial tonight, they were advertising a “Multilatino” package for those viewers who wish to see more channels in Spanish. I saw that word and read it as “Mutilatinos” – as in a combination of the words “mutilated” and “latinos” – which is awful all by itself.
And here’s another example. In that first paragraph, where I was talking about elephants? I originally wrote “elephone”. And where I wrote elephants? I wrote “elephonats”. It’s corrected now, but seriously….WTF?
This is just the most recent example of something that seems to happen to me all the time.
And while this one is not my fault, it is one of my current favorites.
I prefer my wi-fi to have bacon. Actually, I prefer everything to have bacon.
These days, if I’m going to comment on something, or read it aloud, I always make sure I do a double-take before I say anything. Better safe than stupid. Or with a besocked foot in my mouth. Either way.
This could just be a normal aging thing, like my increasing tendency to look for my sunglasses when they are on my head, or double checking to be sure I’m still wearing earrings – both of which, now that I write that, indicate that perhaps I am just unconsciously checking to be sure that my head is still attached. I’m not ruling that out.
As I am within licking distance of the half-century mark, I wonder if this is more of a problem or a symptom, than a quirk. I’m pretty sure I should start journaling in a more detailed fashion, and doing crossword puzzles. That’s what seemed to keep my Mom’s brain clicking. Not Sudoku, though, because not only do I not know how to pronounce it, it makes me want to shoot everything in sight. Not good.
Of course, I can’t recall any more recent incidents even though they happen often (there’s some irony for you, huh?) Which doesn’t make for as interesting post as if I did remember them. But you get what you get.
So what about you? Are you “of a certain age”? Do you have similar word foibles? Don’t worry, share away…I most likely won’t remember.
Sights from Denver last week:
The lovely white moth that drowned sadly, but beautifully, in the dog water dish at the Marg Bar. I wish I had had my camera with me to take a picture, but if you combine this:
Perhaps you’ll get the picture.
The homeless men who were sobbing and arguing at each other: “If you want to be my brother, then you can’t do what you did last night. You can’t put your arm around my neck and SQUEEZE. You just don’t do that to your brother, man.” Though I probably did it to my own brother once during our battalion years.
The gentleman in the bus station who had a sneezing fit. However, when he sneezed, he made a sound like a snort, but followed it up with a distinctly spoken ACHOO.
The lady with the knee-length multicolored dreadlocks. I’m pretty sure hers were real.
The gentleman on the bridge across Hwy. 36. We were approaching from opposite sides, and he had stopped and was talking about the glass being missing from four of the windows. I just assumed he was talking on his invisible phone. We continued towards each other, he still mumbling, and he paused, looked up, and said, “You’re a nice bridge.” He’s right. It is a nice bridge. And it was nice of him to tell it so. Probably made the bridge’s day.
Discovering that if you put your phone up to your ear before you get to the incredibly annoying (though they are just doing their job and for a cause they believe in too) canvasser people who are ALL OVER 16th Street, holding our their hands to shake yours and talk to you and making you feel like a horrible person when you ignore or dismiss them because how rude is it not to shake someone’s hand when it is offered, they target someone else – because you appear to be on the phone.
The gentleman on the bus with the INCREDIBLY SHINY head. It just gleamed like it had been oiled. Maybe it HAD been oiled, I don’t know. No, now that I think about it, a few short, wispy hairs were sticking up, and they would have been slicked down had his head been oiled.
Who knows what interesting things we’ll see this week? I must keep the camera handy.
Fending off a migraine (barely)
My little air conditioner, courtesy of MKL
That I didn’t get heatstroke from my walk today
Having $5 buried in the bottom of my purse so I could get home tonight