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Even Through Natural Disasters, We Remain Inseparably One With All That Exists

It’s been almost two months since the wildfire that engulfed the mountains of the cities of Ventura, Montecito, and Santa Barbara. That devastating fire is now the largest in the history of California! But just as the fires were contained, a two-day storm created a terrible situation for the burned hillsides. The hills turned into muddy rivers that crashed down on homes and streets in Montecito and Santa Barbara. My family visited Santa Barbara exactly two weeks ago. We drove through the streets of Montecito and Santa Barbara, we know exactly what it looked like before the mudslides and now the aftermath, it’s devastating to see the comparison. I’ve heard people tell their stories of survival and I can’t imagine what it’s been like to go through, two, life-changing natural disasters in the past two months.

I heard a radio interview on Press Play with Madeline Brand about Kathi King who described what it was like at 2 am in her neighborhood in Montecito. She and her husband loaded up their cars and decided to evacuate at 2 am and took two different cars loaded with their valuables. She drove off first and was unsure if she should take the 101 freeway or the street before it. She chose the street and was caught in a massive runoff of water and mud that carried her car off the road. She rolled her window down so she wouldn’t be trapped inside the car and waited to see how she could escape. She saw a tree branch and decided to try to hold on to it. She was lucky to be able to steady herself on the tree, and then called her husband but couldn’t reach him. She called her daughter who lives in New York and reached her, she asked her to call someone who could help. Kathi was calm while telling her story, almost as if still in shock, but she continued telling Madeline how she was then found and rescued by friends with the help of her husband and daughter who communicated her location. She talked about having evacuation fatigue from the last evacuation that kept them out of their home for ten-days during the fires. I can understand being hesitant to evacuate after having just returned from being evacuated just weeks beforehand. Thankfully, first responders rescued her husband and son.

Kathi talked about friends and neighbors who perished in the mudslides. As I sat in my car listening to such an amazing story of survival, I was in awe of her courage and resilience. She seemed to be accepting the tragedy of it all but determined to move ahead in spite of it. Just as the interview was ending and I was wiping away tears, I thought about a beautiful quote that Deepak Chopra recites during one of his meditation sessions. It’s about our resilient souls--he quotes the Bhagavad Gita: “Fire cannot burn IT, Water cannot wet IT, Wind cannot dry IT, Weapons cannot shatter IT. Eternal, unborn, IT cannot die”. And in that moment, I had a deep understanding of the quote. Our souls cannot be overcome by tragedies and circumstances in our lives, our thoughts are the culprits that allow our minds to reduce our existence to an event that damages or breaks our belief in the resilience of our being.

It’s been a devastating year for our planet with many natural disasters, bad politics, and conflicts in the world. And the Bhagavad Gita quote reminded me to allow my spirit to lead my mind to the freedom of knowing that the power of mudslides, fires, and earthquakes can’t shake my soul. We’re extraordinary beings that have resilience and courage built in. May the mudslide and fire victims in Ventura, Montecito and Santa Barbara feel our collective good energy and encouragement so that their powerful souls lead their minds past these traumas and tragedies. And to the families of the seventeen people who lost their lives, and to the many animals that also lost their lives, my heart and prayers are with you.

In hope, I am fearless.

-Fabiola

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