Are We Listening? Are You Paying Attention? Wisdom of the California Fires

in ecotrain •  4 months ago

This morning I woke up to yet more news of fires ravaging the landscape in Northern California. Northen California and indeed the entire Pacific Coast is a place I love dearly. There is a feeling of freedom and lightness in the air, perhaps because of the ocean. I grew up going to Southern California to visit family, but when I got older I was attracted to Northern California. I worked on Pot Farms, marveled at the grandeur of the old redwoods and sequoias and I met kindhearted, earth-loving people (and plenty of crazy ones too).


It is devastating in so many ways that the force of fire increasingly ravages the landscapes of California. The fire burns homes to a crisp and displaces entire communities of both humans, wildlife, and trees. We are seeing a full scale cleansing.


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[Photo Source]


I woke up and checked my Instagram feed. It is a cold morning on the homestead- the coldest night yet and after I read the post about the fire, I settled in to make a fire in the cabin to warm up the place. As the poem I am about to share so brilliantly conveys, fire is a friend and, in excess, one of the deadliest foes. Yet instead of pitting fire as the “bad guy,” what if we dig a bit deeper and look at the message fire is bringing.


Great Fire,
We see you.
We bow before your power
Your majestic roar of life transforming
Everything we thought so solid & sure
Into dust.
Great Fire,
We honor you.
Master agent of Transformation
You teach us
True Radical Release.
Not the wishy washy letting go of some comforts &
conveniences, no.
Us humans.
With all our habits.
Raw coconut water in plastic bottles,
<< Oh but I recycle! >>
Not enough.
Great Fire, great modeling of this.
When we evacuate
We realize how little needs to come with
How no thing really matters.
When our houses burn
We are left with no thing
We are left so… Alive.
We let go.
All that has been lost.
It is quiet.
We realize.
Being together is all our hearts want.
And all our business burns away.
Us humans, so important is our doing
Until there’s nothing to do but
Be in it.
Great Fire,
You’ll come teach us
Until we learn. “We can’t solve the problems
With the same kind of thinking we used
When we created them.” (Einstein)
So wipe our minds clean
To dust.
Let the Ash inside of us feed
Dormant seeds from long ago.
Let us remember.
Let us pause.
Let us not be so hasty to “rebuild!” If we build it this way
It will burn again.
What does it mean
To start


Poem by the Gaia School of Healing in California. You can check out there website here.



What most touched me about this poem is the deep reaching respect the author has toward fire. The admission that the way things had been carrying on would no longer work. The truth that the fire is a message, a wake up call.


It is beyond devastating to see destruction on this level. It is even more devastating to think that the clinging of humans (to not let forest fires burn naturally, for example, as is their regenerative cycle and which would actually prevent the fuel accumulated leading to large scale fires of this sort) led to this. Their insistency to not pay attention or realize something needed to change.


“We can’t solve the problems with the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” - Einstein


When Ini and I looked around for a place to call home to create our land-based, long term dreams, of course we wanted to move to cool and hip places like California, replete with likeminded people to form community with. Yet the proximity to huge population centers, lack of water, prevalence of fires, and inflated land and living expenses, ultimately kept us searching.


When my parents said they were going to move to Naples, Florida I had a similar reaction. Why move to a place that is notorious for getting hit with natural disasters? Why move to a place that could be under water within our lifetimes with rising sea levels? The year they moved there Hurricane Irma hit and they evacuated from their home. It was a crazy situation, but surely we all saw it coming. Even now the Atlantic coast of Florida just underwent another crazy natural disaster and many lost everything.


Are We Listening?


These types of things aren’t going to slow down. Weather patterns are erratic, it’s getting colder when it’s cold and hotter when it’s hot and sometimes cold when it should be hot and vice versa. Are we paying attention?

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Photo by Noah Berger


When I asked my dad how they could live in a place that may not be there when his grandkids reach maturity he laughed and said that he would be gone so it wouldn’t matter. I don’t mean to throw my dad under the bus – he takes everything with a good dose of humor and I know that he would do anything for me and his family– but the truth is that many humans are still perceiving things this way. We, as a species, are thinking about our individual lives and not about the long term repercussions of our lifestyles and actions.


It doesn’t matter because it won’t matter for me.


This isn’t 7 Generations Thinking.


Deep in my heart I feel a surge to think 7 generations into the future and align my actions with the wellbeing of those who will come after me. Are my actions creating a better world or simply going along with the destructive flow?


We need to start thinking differently and choosing actions that have different results. I’m not saying no one can have any fun (and why is it that that’s how people immediately react, like to align our actions with the health of future generations is a kill-joy?), but that we need to take a good look at the course we’re on and change directions.


A mentor and guide for me in this time is consistently Joanna Macy. I’ve mentioned her books before. In this passage below she is questioning on of her teachers, Choegyal, about the Shambhala warriors in the prophecy.



“So in this time, the Shambhala warriors go into training. When Choegyal said this, Joanna asked, “How do they train?” They train, he said, in the use of two weapons. “What weapons?” And he held up his hands in the way the lamas hold the ritual objects of dorje and bell in the lama dance.
The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary, he said. You have to have compassion because it gives you the juice, the power, the passion to move. It means not to be afraid of the pain of the world. Then you can open to it, step forward, act. But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other- you need insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With insight into our profound interrelatedness- our deep ecology- you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, too conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heart of compassion. Together these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world.” (pg 61 Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy)

Eyes of Wisdom


During these trying times, we must pay attention to what is before us. We are being given signs from every angle and truly life cannot go on as normal, as it has been going on for so so long. We must make a shift. Maybe, as my dad says, it doesn’t matter – Ice Ages and other full scale, sweeping clean catastrophes have happened many times over and this is just another catastrophic epoch. Yet, that urging deep in my heart, that compassion, combined with the insight of interrelatedness, even with those generations who are not born yet, who will come after me, tells me differently. It does matter and it’s for this reason that we’ve come into these times.


I feel like I share it all the time, but here are some key lines from the Hopi Elder’s prophecy, fitting for a closing statement.


Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in right relation? Where is your water?

Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

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@mountainjewel...your post was beyond incredible. I felt every word you spoke. I have read it several times and plan to read it over and over again. I resonate with finding a new place called home. The search was on for years as to where to go. Coming from Toronto and an obnoxious amount of people and industry, it no longer gave us peace. So where to go. Thoughts of the west coast of Canada called to our hearts. The thoughts of mountains and ocean seemed to real to be true. However, the truth of the West Coast is a nasty reality. Overpriced homes and properties, the real existence of earthquakes, since it is on the fault line and a rising population, did not make it seem quite right. We thought of Georgia and Galveston and several places inbetween. The hurricane threats quickly erased those thoughts. We will just visit. We choose the Eastern Seaboard of Canada. Settling in a village along St. Margarets Bay of 500 people full of Artists. Life is good, the air is clean, the people genuine. We have oceans, lakes and rivers and small mountains. We can fish from the beach if we want and grow an abundance of vegetables. Our property is flooded with raspberries, blackberries, wild strawberries and russet apples. We are watching the devastation in California with horror and wonder why with such tragedies in North America are so many people still killing each other. Their brothers and sisters. What is wrong with people, how come they can not live together in peace. Please keep in touch, with a genuine Steemit connection. :)))


thank you for your amazing comment. for each of us our reasons and choices are different -- and i love that. have you seen @thetreeoflife's challenge?

all about how people found their places they decided to ground and home. it sounds like your advice would be great to add to the pot! your words are so good and true, thanks for sharing them with us!!

I feel you here sister, for way too long people have been asking the wrong questions and ignoring all the signs that nature have been sending us. It is our responsibility to live in harmony with the earth, to listen and learn from our ancestors and to always strive towards finding ways of being of service to the earth. It is pretty bloody obvious to me, yet so many play blind, so many still walking around asleep and disconnected. This is a huge wake up call and it is so sad that this is what is needed, really we need to always listen xxx


It is our responsibility to live in harmony with the earth, to listen and learn from our ancestors and to always strive towards finding ways of being of service to the earth.

yes yes yes...huge wake up call. praying for that shift <3

What an fabulous post @mountainjewel. The poem really touched my heart. Our beautiful Mother Earth is saying so much through her weather, natural shifts and unnatural patterns... and we need to listen. Thank you for sharing... and thank you for caring xx


it really touched mine as well! thanks for your kindhearted comment and for paying attention! <3

The fires are in Malibu and Thousands Oaks as well as northern Cal. One is even at a former nuclear testing site that hasn't been cleaned up. People aren't just ignoring the evidence. They're thumbing their noses at it.

I'm convinced that Thanatos is at play. Just as there is Eros, the instinct towards life/survival, there is also Thanatos, the instinct toward death/destruction. Those two forces interplay in all of existence, but I think they are currently out of balance in humans.

If we think about how like attracts like, this out of balance Thanatos in humans would then also elicit an out of balance destruction response from the planet towards us.

I have an odd skill that I sometimes can access. I can actually communicate with the Wind in such a way that it decides to rise when I ask it to rise, and calm when I ask it to calm. I rarely draw upon it, but it had always been there for me when I reached for it until the last time I did.

That last time was when I was in CA for the Sonoma fires about a year ago. I was told the wind was carrying the fires from Sonoma to where I was south of there. So I reached toward the Wind and asked it to calm.

What reached back I could only describe as rage. Fury.

The fire and wind were working together, and it was something other than anything I've ever experienced coming from nature before.

I of course withdrew my energy from the interaction immediately. But I knew in that moment that what was happening wasn't random. It was a response that we've earned.

The question is, what are we earning now, and what do we intend?


People aren't just ignoring the evidence. They're thumbing their noses at it.

yeah, wow... good point. even more disheartening, but this seems to be the way most humans take in this type of feedback. choose to rail against it...

wow very powerful experience you shared... thanks for sharing it here- i think people can learn from it. i agree it is indeed a balancing response and that's why i wrote this: we need to start listening, paying attention and ask you ask, start to reflect on how we intend to shape how we will respond.

we need to start paying attention, honoring the earth, her cycles and our place in the scheme of things. we aren't the high horses or the pinnacle of creation, we have a place in the web and we must honor all beings. it's a start.

Well said and such a timely reminder to look deeper at our actions and think of the 7 generations.
Being a grandma I know that a lot of what may come about won't effect me but for my grandchild who is only 7 years old , what will her world look like?
What am I contributing to that world, is it positive or negative?
I love my grandchild very much and it's my desire for her to have a good life that often determines my actions. This post just reaffirms that and helps build my commitment and I thank you for that!


i am so heartened to hear you asking those questions @porters. thank you for being who you are. much love!

Great thoughtful and heartfelt post. There are so many components of the wildfire disaster. Global warming certainly, but forest management, regulating the utilities better, considering where and how houses are built. Your post goes beyond the superficial and overly simple posts flying around social media. And beyond my practical list of things to do now.


exactly-- so many factor-- but are people paying attention and responding to the ingredients that you brought up? i'm not sure that they are.

are you safe where you are? your friends and fam? wishing you the best.

Oh the fires... such a constant topic on this bike trip of mine! So far I have been succesfully avoiding them, but talking to people greatly opened up myeyes to the situation. Oh... the posts I have been preparing in my mind about preventitive burning and putting a bit of diversity into the douglas fir plantations. I haven't forgotten, but for right now there are some more miles waiting to be pedaled. Great to read your post on the topic, though.


wow! yes, you are right there on the cusp of it aren't you? i look forward to reading any share that you feel like creating around what knowledge you have gleaned. happy pedaling!

Did you know that the fires in California over the last few years follow the path of the proposed and in progress Light Rail System?

Are you aware that these fires do not behave like ordinary forest fires, and there are many cases where homes are entirely incinerated while unaffected trees surround them?

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natural but bigger than they need to be since they've been controlling them too much. too much kindling, so to say, in the forest so the fire gains more power than it would if it was allowed to burn in controlled burns.