Word-Of-the-Week #740: Fate

October 11, 2018 by  

Fate a circumstance or situation outside of your control. 

Do you think that fate is predetermined? Do you believe that forces outside of your control make things happen? This is an interesting word as it has both very positive and negative meanings!

This week’s WOW is the polar opposite of last week’s Comfort Zone with this UT article by Phil Blair What to do when flames of fate come your way.”

“I’ve always enjoyed not knowing what each new day will bring, what fresh issues or crises will arise. And I like the thrill of finding solutions to whatever comes my way.

No matter what happens, I try to glean something positive that might help me deal better with any similar experience in the future.

All of which is my way of reflecting that it’s been nearly 15 years since the Cedar wildfire of October 2003. In my community, the devastating wildfires covered more than 280,000 acres and claimed a total of 232 homes, including our family’s home.

I remember how we felt as we stared hopelessly at what used to be our home, now charred and virtually barren. Only chimneys, flower pots, burnt-out dishwashers and a murky swimming pool remained. Everything else was ash, much of it still smoldering.

Our home had quite literally disappeared and with it decades of memories and mementos of a happy, fulfilling life shared with my wife and two sons. I knew things would never be the same, but then I realized: There was nothing any of us could’ve done to prevent our house from going up in flames.

I happened to be away when the flames swept though. My wife was able to grab the dog and cat, but that was all. Firefighters worked valiantly and saved more homes than were lost, but ours couldn’t be saved.

  • There was nothing else for me to do

The next day I decided to go to work. There was nothing else for me to do at that time. Of course, the fires were the big topic of conversation around the office, through only a few people knew about the fate of our house. I remember a colleague at a meeting that morning lamenting that thick ash from the fires had drifted over to his neighborhood that was otherwise unaffected.

To him, it represented a messy clean-up job, a real pain. But to me, it represented my children’s art projects, my grandfather’s rocking chair, much of our personal belongings, so much more. I was not alone. There were 231 other families whose homes went up in flames who were forced to go through those same emotions.

I know my colleague would’ve been mortified if he had realized how his comment affected me. At first, I was going to say something but quickly realized it was an innocent remark, one that was forgivable and did not warrant a response.

Because inside, I was already looking forward to a new life for me and my family, which would now need to rise up from those ashes. We were very fortunate to have had strong support from our friends, family and community. And good insurance.

Rather than dwell on our losses, we asked ourselves: How could we make our future even better and more fulfilling than the past?

  • Each dawn brings a new opportunity

Of course, all of us have sudden obstacles thrown at us when we least expect it. But as I say, each new dawn brings a new opportunity, a chance to do something good, new, even better. You can never change the past, but you can choose how to react to it.

What does all that have to do with losing my home to a fire 15 years ago?

Only this: As I think back to that challenging time for me and my family, I’m reminded how suddenly our every-day lives can turn inside out. In a flash. Think unexpected illness, injury, job loss, even death. Bad stuff happens all the time.

Yet I constantly meet people who have lost a job and six months later they are thrilled with their new job and acknowledge they never would have left the old job without the boost of a merger, downsizing or just plain being terminated.

I never thought I’d lose my home to a fire, but I’m convinced that our family’s positive outlook helped create a better outcome. I’m glad I went to work the next day, kept the house fire in perspective and moved on”

This week’s focus is about dealing with situations outside of your control. Would you see it as an opportunity to make your future better? If something bad happened to you would you be able to keep it in perspective and move on? Can you say you have a strong support network of friends, family, and community?

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