The Unexpected Miracle
After a year since the Woolsey fire and only 6 months of construction, I can finally restart my life in my new home...
Drawn by the wisdom of the trees, the beauty of verdant green fields, the quiet strong-willed mountains, and the warmth of the radiant sun, it's here where I feel peace enter my body, mind, and spirit. Where I am at home. Last year, I felt the force of Mother Nature strike back with a determined fire in her eyes - her whipping and lashing over the hills causing damages and loss throughout the community, Malibu, my home.
Like the ever-changing season, nature cycles through the spring, summer, fall, and winter. Still, it continues to flourish after ending that cycle. Back to rebirth and new life after death and destruction. And just like nature, we are no different; just a perfect reflection of it in every shape and form. After the loss of nearly all materialistic things and emotional symbols that we've collected over the years, my family and I chose to imitate nature. To give birth to a reinvigorated self. To wash away the ashes of what was and nurture what will be.
"It’s funny how after stating all my life that the only things I need are my bike and tent, ironically it left me with just that."
Witnessing with my very own eyes, eyes that saw the moment my home burnt to the ashes, and now after seeing the slow transformation of my home being rebuilt was an indescribable experience.
It was nothing like I've felt before. Mixed emotions flooded the air. And in that air, unbeknownst to me, was a strand of hope - hope that everything will end up as promised. I was in the beginning stages of construction when I saw the unimaginable - neighbors giving up on their own properties. It was an unsettling feeling as we advanced forward to see the community I love, a community I call home, at a standstill due to various factors; some losing the strength to push ahead, to fight. There's no denying that I almost lost hope, but the only thing that kept me going was the promise I made to my wife. The promise we made to each other and to our kids.
"We promise you, in one year's time, we will be sitting under our roof..."
As days turned to weeks and months, determination filled my heart, my body, and my soul to continue to move forward against the oncoming tide. There were obstacles, plenty of hurdles to jump through that made it nearly impossible to continue with the rebuilding process. Laws enacted over the coming weeks and lack of proper communication from authorities like banks, insurance companies, and different departments in the LA County made even the simplest task to process become a bump in the night. We dealt with authorities that pushed us away simply because they were behind on paperwork. Because of the numerous disastrous wildfires in California and total expense in the millions, bureaucratic agencies, and the different departments within, made it difficult using the excuse that this was a new system they needed to establish. Challenges like these made the rebuilding process demanding and draining to place trust in anyone. But in the end, we made it through every hurdle and faced every obstacle with the same determination as nature had that fateful day.
When nature strikes with such unexpected power, it's an opportunity to reflect on what holds true to you. The values of family and the human strength to overcome and rise out from tragedy. It left me with nothing but the clothes on my back and the love to persevere - to move on. But still, Mother Nature continues to astonish even when I'm left with the bare necessities. My wife and I sat with our kids, teaching them not to be discouraged and to respect nature even when at its worst - to stand firm against the odds of mounting pressure. And together as a family, as a single unit, we'll work through the intense emotions and rebuild anew out of the old. Stronger than before.
It's been over a year since I made that promise, a year since the fire raged and took everything from our coastal community. Homes are still waiting (or in the process) to be rebuilt as charred mountainsides have been blanketed with lush greenery. This sign of life, of rebirth, of a new cycle, is nothing short of hope. Everything left behind may have burned in the fire, yet there's always something there to grow and replace what was once lost. Like a mythical phoenix, the only thing we have is our sheer determination to fight against the odds and to start anew from the ashes. I am not angry at nature for cleansing us. Not at all. The opposite, in fact. I respect it even more. It forced me to grow and challenge myself, not only as a person, but as a husband, father, artist, and businessman. It gave me a whole new appreciation for nature (and all its wondrous conundrums)and a new perspective on life. And in telling my story, I hope this inspires you to explore your own life situation in a different way. Whatever it may be. To tackle every obstacle, every thunderstorm in your path, every single moment of your life with a sense of hope. Like nature - plants and trees bloom under pressure, and animals fight to protect what's theirs - we are a force to be reckoned with.