It's surreal to be mentally engulfed by one particular thing, and then to look up and realize that everyone else has other things on their minds, and that they are continuing on, completely unaware that you've stopped and are just standing there staring at everyone else as they move past you at a frenetic pace. While I was stressed out about this fire (the Waldo Canyon Fire, for those just happening along), even before being evacuated, I'd go to a different part of town and no one seemed to be thinking about the fire so much. I'm sure they were, but they weren't even looking up at the mountains. No smoke stained their nostrils. Yet, you walk around in my area and all heads are tilted up, watching those mountains for any sign that danger might be on its way. We've come to a place where we can block out the smell of smoke. It's taken for granted that our chests, throats and eyes will be irritated, that we likely have our valuables and mementos stored somewhere easily accessible in case we have to flee again.
When this whole section of the city was on mandatory evacuation, I drove down the Interstate, which had become the line of demarcation. On my right side, it was a ghost town, save for fire trucks and police cars. Garden of the Gods Road was empty, a condition I've NEVER seen it in, even in the middle of the night. Helicopters and airplanes flew in circles, diving then climbing steeply after dropping their water or slurry onto the fire. Smoke rose, flames consumed, and it looked and sounded like an active war zone.
To my left, though, a shopping center was packed with cars. The regular ol' hustle and bustle went on, as if nothing astronomical had happened. Because, you see, it hadn't to them. Their lives were normal, albeit a little more acrid and stinky, probably a bit sadder and more stressed than usual. After all, these mountains belong to everyone in this town, and no matter where you stand, they are burning. It impacts everyone, but not necessarily in the same ways.
If this were a science fiction film, it would be aliens up in them thar' hills, stealing our resources, viciously zapping any living thing that dared pop up on the slopes of the mountains, possibly experimenting on the people and animals they picked up, in order to find their weaknesses.
If this were a natural disaster movie, it might be a volcanic eruption occurring in long dormant volcanoes. Or a fire. Cuz' that's a natural disaster, too. They ever made that one? Maybe they will now, considering most of the west appears to be in flames.
If this were a romance, some young couple would have been drawn together at one of the many shelters, having lost their homes. They would help each other through this tragedy, finding love along the way, though maybe the crabby, but uber-protective, big sister would disapprove.
If this were a horror film, perhaps this would be the aftermath of burning a killer sasquatch out of the mountains after a murderous carnivore spree through the foothills of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. He stalked his victims home from Garden of the Gods Park, ripping them to shreds and taking their heads as trophies.
If this were a sci-fi/horror mix, the fire itself might be the monster, but what controls it? After all, it has been repeatedly said that this fire is not behaving like any other fire, ever. Could it be a living creature? A declaration of war using some mutant agent?
If this were a mystery, some cocky detective would be interviewing witnesses about something unexplained, the fire background setting. Or we'd be following the fire inspector around to find out who had committed arson.
You can get story lines anywhere, in any situation. Fear and tragedy don't shut that off. Some might keep that creativity going in the midst of it, while others, like me, might see those stories a bit more once in a relatively safe place. I know one person was posting about writing about the possible sources of the fire while waiting to be evacuated. I wrote a piece of poetry while sitting at a Chick-fil-A, the smoky hills visible through the windows, as my children played in the playplace, having been stuck indoors due to the excessive amount of smoke. That was the day I came home just in time for the firestorm and subsequent evacuation. I didn't write a word while in exile, but I'm betting others wrote plenty.
Life is fodder, for those of us who write, or draw, or sing. The creative souls within us absorb all of these things that happen to us, churn them around, make them our own, and then regurgitate them in whatever fashion fits us best. In the meantime, those around us see things completely differently, even if they share our creative souls. Each person experiences each thing individually and uniquely. Sometimes it means they aren't suffering the same thing, but sometimes it means they are just suffering differently. Either way, life goes on. We make it what we want to make it, or maybe what we have to make it.
How about a writing assignment? You don't have to share it, though you are welcome, either on here or on your blog, or you can just share the experience that comes to mind. Think of an event that has had a significant impact on you. It doesn't have to be negative, just significant. Write a poem, a piece of flash, or a short story about it. Twist it if you want to, or try to write it as close to the truth as you want. It's your personal event, to do with as you please.
May you find your Muse.