I've been trying to find words to describe the effects of a fire that can wipe out brains and memories for a whole city with no regard for our place on earth. The effect wasn't numbing or bone-stopping sad to me, it just made me think and dread the work ahead. Visiting our son while the fire blazed, I woke up early and just lay there thinking-- the most important thing left in the world is beauty. If everything is gone, I still want beauty. To me, it is important to think like the architect Renzo Piano. He said beauty is not just cosmetic, but it is “discovery, light, space, compression, expansion, shadow, and a sense of lightness, maybe eventually with something that is called language.”
So how do you claim beauty after a fire? It is a clearing that gives more energy for making things, things that speak of beauty. I don't want to replace the little stuff. Yes, we need to rebuild, but keep that feeling of a clean slate. I want to move forward. As ever in life, there seems more to do that is not making beauty: so many tasks. The durm and strang of these two life forces demands that we realize the end is simple. You don't need much and you will go out with nothing. You could or will just live lightly on the earth. But to make beauty you've got to be involved and share and play with others. Piano said, “creativity is only possible when you share creativity,” We were put here to contribute, and mix, and learn.
Fortunately or unfortunately, we make and acquire with no belief that it will be gone. No journals, no art made, no trip histories, no pictures, no books, no stuff. I like to think of a clean slate or the new growth a forest experiences after a fire. Everything is cleared so we can think again. A fire that destroys 6000 homes is part of nature, it is not personal. Still Wordsworth's words hang there: "getting and spending we lay waste our powers." And then there's Isiah 24:1 It is, after all, only earth, with no believable explanation of why we're here. So with that elephant in the room, we're happy and continue on, making, learning and building. Our biggest mystery keeps us looking forward.