Riley was angry. Not visibly. But it wasn’t hard to ‘see’.
He had been fighting the fires as they encroached on his house with his father. He could see the fire down the street, but right then he felt it was all manageable. He was about to cut down the fences while keeping the house wet with the water hoses.
That’s when the Fire Department arrived.
“We’ve got it”. They said. “But you and the family need get out to safe ground.”
Riley looked around, the fire was a quarter of a mile away, the Fire Department had arrived, there was a water hydrant right there in the road.
“We’ve got it.” They reiterated – you need to leave.
Apparently, the fire had ‘jumped’, quickly with speed – there weren’t sufficient resources, once a fire took hold the strategy was to not to ‘protect’, but to ‘contain’.
Riley and the family left. They only took what they needed. They returned the next morning, their house was gone. All the houses from where the fire was through to his were gone. The house next door was still standing. Apparently, the fire had ‘jumped’, quickly with speed – there weren’t sufficient resources, once a fire took hold the strategy was to not to ‘protect’, but to ‘contain’. It would have taken them maybe 10 minutes more to load up their cars with the boxes of pictures, the memorabilia, the family history … packed for an entirely different reason, but left behind because they ‘trusted’ the authorities, the professionals, the people who ‘knew what they were doing’. All that was now gone, along with their house.
Yes – Riley was angry. ‘If only’ – he had stayed, it would have been different. ‘If only’ – they had loaded the cars, mom would not be crying every day … 6 months later. ‘If only’ – the fire service had done their job. He had a lot of ‘if only’ in him… But he knew in his heart that they had done their job. He was really just angry at himself. He seemed to feel that he had failed.
What he didn’t know was if he had stayed whether the outcome would be different. And if it was different, would the outcome be better or worse.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal held in your hand, with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the only one that gets burned.